I received a card in the mail this week from my son, Joe’s, 4th grade teacher. On the front of the card are the words, “Thoughtfulness is always remembered.” Inside was a picture of my son with his friend when they were in the 8th grade, along with a lovely note that reads; “Hello Colleen, Had found this picture of Joseph and his friend the summer he visited Boca. Found it in my box of prayers. Had taken the two boys out for pizza. They made me smile. Thinking of you - Much love and joy, Bridget”
It was twenty two years ago that Joseph was in Bridget’s class. We had moved from Plymouth, MA to Boca Raton, FL in the middle of his 4th grade year. After a month or so of school it came time for parent teach conferences and I went in to talk with his teacher, Ms. Bonczyk. I was curious to know how he was doing since we were in a whole new state and school. When I walked into the room she greeted me with an enthusiastic “It is so nice to meet you Mrs. Sgroi!” I though, well, this is a good sign. She proceeded to tell me what a joy Joseph was to have in her class and could not wait to meet his mom because she could tell he was from a loving home and was adjusting wonderfully. I walked out of the school a very happy mom indeed.
However the story does not end there. One day during the following school year, when my Joseph was now in the 5th grade, I received a call from Ms. Bonczyk. She was in the hospital having had bit of a physiological break-down and needed to talk to someone. She said she always felt a kind of peace around Joseph and also felt it with me when we talked during parent teacher conferences and wondered if I would come and visit her. You can imagine my surprise and yet my heart went out to her and I said yes. We fast became friends, as I visited her many times in the hospital until she got out. She then became like family and we would include her in dinners and such. After four years in Boca we moved to Williamsburg, VA but we kept in touch and when Joseph went back to Boca to visit his friend, Bridget took them out for pizza.
Zooming eighteen years to now I get this card with the inscription “Thoughtfulness is always remembered.” and I am reminded of the words of Maya Angelou, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche argued that kindness and love are the "most curative herbs and agents in human intercourse". I remind myself of this daily and I listen. Listen? Listen to what? Listening to the needs around me is only the first step. It is when I listen closer, that creative acts of kindness start to seep into my thoughts. Sometimes I get so caught up into my to-do-list that I ignore those thoughts of kindness. However, the more I act on these thoughtful intentions, the more I see how it is just what that person needed. Then I get a hit of joy from listening to my inner voice of love and I receive love in return.
I believe we all hear that still small voice of kindness that sounds something like this: “Your friend’s mom is dying and she is taking care of her and you hear that little voice go on to say “Go over to your friends home and clean her house”. What do you do? Sometimes the mind will take you right out of the game with thoughts like, “I don’t have time to clean my own house, how can I make time to clean hers?!” Or maybe the mind will be a bit more crafty and say, “Oh she would think I am insulting her by going in to clean her house, as if I think she is not a good house cleaner.” Oh yes, I know the ego can turn things around to make it seem like it would be far more noble to NOT insult your friend then it would be to take a chance that your act of kindness may be just what she needs. My answer is this: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” So it is not the act itself that effects them, but the love behind the act? Hummm, I can do that! Imagine hearing your friend say, “Wow! No one has ever done anything like that for me before, thank you so much!”
According to Anthony Robbins, "we are all driven by the need to fulfill six human needs. These 6 basic human needs are not just desires or wants, but profound needs which serve as the basis of every choice we make".
1. Certainty - This is the need for security, comfort and consistency
2. Uncertainty - This is need for variety, challenges,
3. Significance - The need to feel important, needed, wanted and worthy of love
4. Love and Connection - The need for feeling connected with and loved by other human beings.
5. Growth - The need for constant development emotionally, intellectually and spiritually
6. Contribution - Giving beyond ourselves and giving to others.
He goes on to say that the first four anyone can find even if they are in a street gang, but it is the last two, growth and contribution, that bring true happiness.
So the next time you hear that little voice suggest a random act of kindness, follow it where ever it may lead and you will find happiness and joy in you and in the lives you touch.
Colleen Sgroi is a teaching artist at Colleen Sgroi Gallery & Art Classes, 12 Andover Road, Billerica, www.colleensgroi.com 978-667-1009