My mother passed away 15 years ago on Mother’s Day weekend. Today I can think of no more fitting tribute than to share something she wrote many years ago. This is from a talk she gave in 1981.
Do Yourself a Favor – Make Someone Happy
We are sent here together, as sharers of each others burdens, and we should be quick in our deeds of mercy. It is not simply a suggestion that we should follow these ideals if we felt like it – we are told that suffering and distress, wherever found, command the service of every one who can soften a sorrow, or dry a tear.
There is an added bonus in this for each of us, too. When we perform a helpful, or kindly act for another, it makes us feel good inside. Norman Vincent Peale, a famous author and lecturer, words it this way – “Helping others is one of the best ways to help yourself. Those warm feelings that spread within us when we do something nice for someone else are some of the best feelings that we can ever experience.”
Taking his daily stroll, an old but energetic gentleman dropped a half-dollar on the sidewalk. A passerby retrieved it, and hurried up to the man to return it. “Oh, I didn’t LOSE it,” the man said. “I always drop a coin when I take my daily walk.” “But WHY?” asked the passerby. “I’ll let you in on a little secret,” the old gentleman smiled, “It pleases me to think that the person who finds it, will be happy for the rest of the day.” You could say that the old gentleman was doing himself the favour of making some else happy.
Isn’t it wonderful that one of the precious, effective, and long-lasting gifts that one person can give to another, is absolutely free? It’s true, though. Long after the expensive present has worn out, or been forgotten, the gift of a kind and encouraging word, a thoughtful act, or a friendly smile, can live on indefinitely. And not only are these easy-to-give gifts free – the supply never runs out!
A friendly stranger on the street remarks, “What a lovely day! It’s a joy to be alive!” – and suddenly we realize that it is! Some of their happiness is passed on to us.
Sometimes we really don’t feel all that happy or cheerful ourselves – then we need to PRACTISE smiling and being cheerful.
I’ll laugh at myself, in spite of myself,
No matter HOW I may feel.
And after awhile, my painted on smile
Will turn into one that is real.
A few years ago, a 102 year old man appeared on one of Groucho Marx’s television programs, and matched wits quite successfully with the professional comedian. When asked why he seemed so cheerful all of the time, the oldster said, “Every morning when I get out of bed, I have two choices – to be happy or to be unhappy. I always choose to be happy.” We, too would be wise to make this conscious choice.
“It’s not just as we take it, this mystical world of ours – Life’s field will yield as we MAKE it, a harvest of thorns, or of flowers.” (Goethe)
Let us concentrate on harvesting the flowers. We know that a small effort on our part, can make a great deal of difference to the happiness of others – and to ourselves. Let’s do ourselves a favour, and make someone else happy, today and every day. Happiness is not an accident – it is a by-product, as a result of our trying to live according to Christian ideals.