My 3-year-old daughter is very in tune with the concept of cause and effect: every action has a reaction, if I do this then this happens, this is that way because of x, y and z.
She draws interesting conclusions on her own that often impress me, and also make me wonder at what point in her youth will she effectively find ways to outsmart me (or has she already?)
For example, a few weeks ago we had this conversation:
At the pet store, we walked passed a cat available for adoption. My daughter says …
“Aw, let’s take him home.”
Me: “Well, Honey (our cat) doesn’t really like other cats. We can’t really get another cat until Honey dies.”
Perhaps a blunt statement for a toddler but, it didn’t seem harmful. She seemed to accept it and we moved on. Later that day, my daughter paused before we went into the house.
“Mom, did Honey die?”
Me: “Oh, no — I just meant someday she will. Do you want her to?” I asked, confused whether she really wanted this other cat more.
“No, I don’t want her to do. Will Mara (our dog) die?”
“Yes, someday Mara will die.”
This caused much more emotional distress given her relationship with our 7-year-old pup, and so I knew a conversation about death was needed.
“Well, Mara will grow older before she dies. Everybody dies, pumpkin. Grandmas, grandpas, parents – everyone eventually grows up to die, so that is why we try to enjoy the moments we’re in.”
While still upset about Mara, she seemed OK about this until later that evening on the couch. She started crying to me.
“Mom, I don’t want to die.”
Me: “Oh, pumpkin, people grow up before they die. You are still super little you have a lot of growing to do. It’s OK sweetie. I don’t think it’s something most people want to do. It’s OK to be sad, but you don’t need to worry now.”
The next morning we were walking past a reflective window and my daughter turns to me.
“Mom, I am still little! I’m not growing up!”
This seemingly an acceptance statement that she didn’t need to worry about death looming around the corner and could accept some of what she had just weaved together.
While I am not here to talk solely about life and death, I do think it’s a good reminder about what we are doing in life, before death. We all are lucky enough to spend time on this planet, the question is whether the time we’re spending is worth our while – and others.
Cause – and effect. Is there something we can do today to better others? We ask ourselves this when we start a business, to a certain extent. What product or service will we offer to improve the lives of our customers? Sure, some people are truly just driven by the bottom line after identifying a money-making need in the market, but others are truly here to serve … and if you’ve stuck with me this far in the conversation, you’re probably one of them.
Here are 3 simple suggestions to start enabling yourself to create the positive ripple effect in others lives:
1)Express gratitude. When we are regularly thankful for what we have in our life – things, experiences, accomplishments and what have you – then we shift the focus away from what we have yet to achieve or own. Make a habit of when you will do this – with breakfast, at the end of the work day or before bed. Write it down, if it works for you, or simply say it out loud to yourself. Actively acknowledging our gratitude makes us more aware creates an atmosphere of abundance. When you feel abundant in your own life – you’re more able to give … which brings me to number 2.
2) Live generously. Begin everyday with the idea that you’d like to do good for just one person that day. Something small – leave an extra generous tip for your waitress, talk just 5 minutes longer to the lonely cashier at the grocery or post a thank you note to your mail man – whatever it might be that brings someone a smile. Or, something big, like a donation to a favorite nonprofit, purchasing supplies for a family in need and so forth. It doesn’t have to be monetary – many areas have a volunteer center that will help you find one-time opportunities to give your time, no strings attached.
3) Join &Company. Our online community regular talks about purposeful life and business, and we’d love to have you a part of this growing network of do-good individuals. Just click over to the group and request to join, I look forward to getting to you know!