My husband - my dear, sweet, at-times-foolish husband - broke his leg last weekend. In his mind he decided to "re-live his youth." In my mind, he climbed a tree. Already see how this went down? (ha ha). Thankfully it could have been worse. After one surgery, two crutches, and five days in hospital, he's home and en route to his usual self. Jokes aside, we're certainly all for "living young at any age" at TKJ. In addition to our mindset, how we behave directly affects our emotions and experience. If you don't believe me, try skipping up the path to your front door later today, instead of just walking as usual.
Another fundamental concept behind TKJ that is crucial to the practice of kindness - and therefore cultivating more happiness - is to notice the kindness of others. When we raise our attention to kind acts bestowed upon us by other people, it causes us to feel positive emotions such as gratitude and optimism. It also inspires us to be kinder ourselves. Kindness truly is contagious.
That day in the park was an interesting one. I remember how unseasonably warm it was as we walked our usual route as a family of four. I remember hearing the "snapping" sound of my husband's bones (tibia and fibula - yikes) when they broke clean through on his landing. And the screaming (open fracture). I remember feeling incredibly flustered and mildly in shock as I called 911 for an ambulance, having abandoned our 5-month old and stroller 20 meters away to rush to where he fell, while also trying to keep our 3-year old from getting close enough to his Dad to catch a view of the site of his injury.
I remember a man in a red jacket offering to walk up to the top of the road and wait, so he could flag down the ambulance the moment it approached and direct it into the best place to reach us quickly. I remember another man offer to fetch the stroller (with my youngest still in it) and bring it to me. He also stuck around and later gathered up my husband's things that had scattered to give to me: One of his shoes, his jeans that the paramedics had cut off, a glove.
Sure, you're probably thinking. There was an accident. Anybody would stop and help out, that doesn't count as kindness. Not true. One family walked by and hardly acknowledged us at all. Scientific fact: We are more likely to spring to help others in need when we are alone as compared to when we are part of a group. This is because when we're part of a group, most of us believe that someone else - maybe even someone better or more capable - will obviously rise to the occasion. But that doesn't have to be you.
The fact is, kindness is kindness, no matter what the situation or context is, no matter how big or how small. If you have intentionally acted in a way that has made a positive impact on someone's life, that has somehow made it just a little bit better in any way, then you've helped. Plain and simple. Take a moment to remind yourself of that the next time you undermine or downplay something you've done that made someone smile. Or the next time you pass someone on the street and consider whether or not you could lend a helping hand.
Just one more thing: Stay out of trees. Or at least the really tall ones. :)