The weather had been dark and rainy, and I felt just as gloomy. It happens to us all, I guess.
As I sat at my desk, I remembered it was the birthday of a longtime friend—a single, middle-aged woman who had dedicated the past 30 years to nursing and loved her work. Knowing that she didn’t have family in town, I decided to give her a call. Sure enough, she was on B shift, scheduled to work late into the evening, and wouldn’t have much of a birthday this year. As always, though, she sounded cheerful and was happy I had called.
After I hung up, I couldn’t shake the feeling that she would really appreciate a little special attention on her birthday. Still feeling a little gloomy myself, I tried to put the thought out of my mind, but as the day passed I couldn’t shake it. I finally gave in, and that evening set off to the hospital with a card, a slice of cheesecake, and a “flower” sculpted from balloons.
My friend’s grateful smile and joyful exclamations assured me I had done the right thing and were a generous reward for the little effort it had taken.
When I got home, I realized that I had not only cheered up a lonely friend on her birthday, but I had caused my own gloom to dissipate in the process. Making her day had made my own.
Isn’t that the way it is when we take the time and make the effort to do something for someone else? It’s like the little saying, “Loving-kindness is twice blessed; it blesses him who gives, and him who receives.”
Life constantly presents us with opportunities to take an extra step or do a kind deed that will make a difference to someone. And the wonderful thing is that as we do, it changes things for the better for us too. Like a boomerang, the blessing comes back to us.
The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Real compassion comes from seeing the suffering of others. You feel a sense of responsibility, and you want to do something for them.—The 14th Dalai Lama (b. 1935)