Last May I gave birth to my son.
I still remember every detail of that day. It was 11pm when my water broke, and I wasn’t ready. I knew they had to get the baby out of me somehow, but I was terrified of the whole experience.
The whole time you are pregnant you prepare for the baby. You are educated about the pain that comes with childbirth and the whole messy process. People tell you horror stories about their experiences. No matter how much you plan, you are walking into something completely unpredictable, that you know isn’t going to be comfortable and easy.
And to add to it, I don’t do well in medical situations. I have a fear of being poked by needles. I faint at the sight of blood. You have so many fears about the health and wellness of your baby. What if something goes wrong?
And if that weren’t enough, when it was over I would be a mama – and I wasn’t sure I was ready. What if I didn’t like my baby? What if I got postpartum depression? I had so many thoughts, fears, and emotions rattling around in my brain I couldn’t keep it under control.
When I set foot into the ER, I was a mess. I had been up since 5am that morning and I was exhausted. My clothes were disheveled and soaking wet. And tears were pouring down my face as I sobbed on my husband’s shoulder about how I just wasn’t ready yet.
And in the midst of all that fear and doubt, the thing that stands out the most was this wonderful nurse in labor and delivery room, who got me through it all. She was so kind. She went out of her way to comfort me, give me a pep talk, and she even wrapped the IV in my arm with a cloth so I wouldn’t have to see the needle.
She told me about how she loved her job because bringing babies into the world was so magical. When she spoke she did it with such passion and love, it inspired me. Her words made me think about that night differently – instead of something I had to get through, it was going to be a special day. And she gave me the courage I needed to get through the night.
What you do is important
We all have stories about people who have touched our lives in some way. A teacher that spent a little extra time with us, more than merely just doing their job. A boss or coworker who went out of their way to make sure we really understood the problem. Maybe it was one of your parents who sacrificed to give you a better start. And that is just it, the things that we do for one another are important.
As you go to work every day, and you live your life, it can be easy to forget this lesson and take the easy way out. But you never know when a little extra effort might make a big difference for someone else. A small act of kindness or generosity can change someone and they may remember it for years to come.
Do your best all the time
A few years ago I had a fellow who worked for me named Jeff. He was one of those people I know is going to be super successful. Any time I asked him to do something, he always exceeded my expectations. One time I asked him about his work, and he told me that his parents taught him to always do everything to the best of his ability. He went on to tell me about how his mother taught him to make his bed perfectly with all of the corners tucked snuggly under the mattress.
That story always stuck with me, because it made me realize that truly great people give everything their best – including the mundane things like making beds.
Each day you are given many opportunities to do a little more. To be larger instead of smaller; thoughtful instead of careless. Doing these small acts can improve the lives you touch each day. By taking these actions you will be demonstrating that you are more than just ordinary, but that you are something, and someone, great.
The best place to start is here
Being kind to others can make you happier. There is a study done by Harvard Business School and the University of British Columbia that concluded “giving to others makes us happy, even happier than spending on ourselves. What’s more, our kindness might create a virtuous cycle that promotes lasting happiness and altruism.” The researchers called the last part a “Helper’s High” which created a rippling effect of kind acts.
Don’t you want to be the stone that creates a ripple of happiness and good in the world?
As with everything in life, you can start applying these ideas right now. Think about someone in your life that could benefit from your kindness – just like the nurse in the hospital that saw how shook up I was and took the time to help me.
You can send a thoughtful email; most of us don’t give enough praise. For example you could send a “great job!” email to a coworker who you could tell was really nervous speaking in a meeting.
Or it can be as simple as really listening when someone is speaking. The next time someone tells you about their weekend, don’t just listen to respond, listen to hear what they are saying.
The next time someone rubs you the wrong way, be compassionate and give them the benefit of the doubt instead of getting defensive. You can choose practice empathy and not judge others so quickly.
And when you do your work, do the best job that you can. If you are going to take the time to do something do it right. Strive to be proud of everything you say and do. [ click to tweet ]
One thing is for certain, though: you will never regret being kind and generous.
What you do matters. What you do is important. And you have the chance to make a difference to those around you.