Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.
~ Mother Teresa
This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
~ Dalai Lama
I just returned from the post office where a bright eyed woman offered me a piece of cake. “What’s the occasion?” I asked.
“My birthday,” she replied. “My 99th birthday.”
First of all, this woman did not physically look 99 years old. She looked younger than most of the folks I know in their eighties, sorry friends, but that’s the truth. I smiled at her, said something profound like, “wow, how wonderful!” and proceeded to walk down to my PO boxes to retrieve my mail while the next person who walked in was greeted with the same enthusiasm and offer of cake. As I slowly collected my mail I thought to myself, how wonderful is this!? I wanted to know a little bit more about her and ask her a few questions. I walked over to the woman (who was wearing an old t-shirt with a picture of a 14 cent postage stamp) and I said I’m going to pass on the cake, but I’d love a hug. She gave me a strong hug and I asked her “what’s your secret for staying so vibrant?”
She said, “Oh, I have a lot of secrets. But really, exercise, eating healthy……. but most importantly it’s being kind to people and caring for others. Kindness is the most important thing. And exercise. And remembering to eat – a lot of old people don’t feed themselves. I just think that caring for others, being kind and doing toward others what you would like done toward you – that’s the secret.”
Honestly I thought I was going to cry. I can be a little bit emotional sometimes. It was just so simple. So beautiful. So real. And I’m telling you, this woman looked nothing like what I thought 99 years old looked like. So I signed her little notebook that she had on the counter and wrote something simple like, “God Bless You and Happy Birthday.”
As I said goodbye and started to walk out she said “God bless you and thank you for sharing my birthday.” Now I know she hadn’t seen what I had just written, so I thought that was pretty neat. I thought of her my entire drive home. What an inspiration. What a vision. What a reminder. A reminder to smile at strangers; laugh at simple mistakes; love openly; live simply; and simply be kind.
Since I strive to find confirmation in scientific literature for most anything these days, especially when it comes to longevity, I got to work on that as soon as I got home, looking up kindness and longevity on the National Institutes of Health Website. There were over 350 articles to go through, most weren’t specific to my search request, but the take home I got is this. Do I really need science to back up my intention to be more loving and more kind towards others? I don’t think so. I think I’ll risk it. I’m risking kindness and I’m spreading joy. Won’t you join me?