Tuesday, 17 September 2013
A Walk through Happiness
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” ~Dalai Lama
Daniel had an old trench coat that was balled up on the floor of his garage gathering dust. It was raining and it was unusually cold. He was driving home when he saw a man in a short sleeved shirt wandering through the neighborhood, pushing a shopping cart. He was walking painfully slow. He was dripping wet.
Daniel paused at the intersection to his street and watched him for several minutes, thinking. His heart was heavy seeing him move so slowly, so wet, so cold. He suddenly remembered the crumpled-up coat. ‘But what if I needed it sometime in the future?’ he thought. Just then, a story he had once heard at a church conference came to his mind.
Two boys walked down a road that led through a field. The younger of the two noticed a man toiling in the fields of his farm, his good clothes stacked neatly off to the side. The boy looked at his older friend and said, “Let’s hide his shoes so when he comes from the field, he won’t be able to find them. His expression will be priceless!” The boy laughed.
The older of the two boys thought for a moment and said, “The man looks poor. See his clothes? Let’s do this instead: Let’s hide a silver dollar in each shoe and then we’ll hide in these bushes and see how he reacts to that, instead.”
The younger companion agreed to the plan and they placed a silver dollar in each shoe and hid behind the bushes. It wasn’t long before the farmer came in from the field, tired and worn. He reached down and pulled on a shoe, immediately feeling the money under his foot.
With the coin now between his fingers, he looked around to see who could have put it in his shoe. But no one was there. He held the dollar in his hand and stared at it in disbelief. Confused, he slid his other foot into his other shoe and felt the second coin. This time, the man was overwhelmed when he removed the second silver dollar from his shoe.
Thinking he was alone, he dropped to his knees and offered a verbal prayer that the boys could easily hear from their hiding place. They heard the poor farmer cry tears of relief and gratitude. He spoke of his sick wife and his boys in need of food. He expressed gratitude for this unexpected bounty from unknown hands.
After a time, the boys came out from their hiding place and slowly started their long walk home. They felt good inside, warm, changed somehow knowing the good they had done to a poor farmer in dire straits. A smile crept across their souls.
Inspired by the story, Daniel drove home, took his coat from the garage and went looking for the old man in the rain. He soon spotted him as he hadn’t gone too far. He pulled up alongside him and asked him to come over.
He hesitated, then walked closer. Daniel asked if he had a place to stay. He said he did and was close. He then offered him the jacket. He looked stunned, like Daniel was violating some accepted code of conduct. He urged the man to take it. He slowly reached out and took the old coat. He smiled. So did Daniel.
We all have poor farmers toiling in the fields of their trials and difficulties along the roads of our lives. Their challenges might not be known to us. But their countenances often tell a story of pain. Like Daniel, we have opportunities to hide shoes or rather hide silver dollars in them.
When we hear of stories of kindness being done to others, we are inspired to do the same. So share your experiences of kindness. We need them. They help make us better people. A small act of kindness can make a big difference. It can make someone’s day! When you look, you’ll find opportunities to perform acts of kindness. When you take those opportunities, you’ll feel great. Give freely because you care about the other person and don't expect anything in return.
The thing about kindness is that it has its own rewards and it improves your sense of well-being. Such deeds come from a state of benevolence, generated by a core response deep within us. When we carry out an act of kindness it is a message from one heart to another, an act of love, an unspoken "I care" statement. Whether or not we acknowledge it, humanity has a strong bond with nature, and if we choose to ignore this, we do so at our peril.