With Loving Kindness

On his way home one night, a man stopped and bought a sunflower to put on the windshield of someone he was smitten with. After some consideration, he decided that after just the one date, perhaps the gesture was too much.

In the morning, not wanting it to go to waste, he grabbed the flower with the intent to give it to a random person on his way to work. While sitting and drinking his coffee at a local shop, he saw a woman reading something, as tears quietly and quickly slid down her pale face. It was then, he knew, the flower was meant for her. He then approached her table, flower in hand.

The modern term “Loving kindness” was first defined in 1535 as tender and benevolent affection. It is an English translation of Chesed, a term found in the Hebrew Bible. Chesed means ‘kindness or love between people’, specifically of the devotional piety of people towards God as well as of love or mercy of God towards humanity. According to Meriam-Webster, one who is benevolent genuinely wishes other people well, with bene meaning “good,” and velle meaning “to wish.” Other comparable terms to describe an act of loving kindness might be warmhearted, considerate, or sympathetic. Can you recall a time when someone treated you with loving kindness?

With “kindness” being the quality or state of being kind, how is the activity affected by adding the adjective “loving?” Can we be kind without being loving? Can we be loving without being kind? Certainly it is possible to be kind to those we do not love, but should we not love everyone on some level? And to love without being kind, well, that seems impossible.

When a Buddhist monk was invited to speak to a senior class he said this, “Statistically, it’s highly unlikely that any of you will ever have the opportunity to run into a burning orphanage and rescue an infant. But, in the smallest gesture of kindness – a warm smile, holding the door for the person behind you, shoveling the driveway of the elderly person next door – you have committed an act of immeasurable profundity, because to each of us, our life is our universe.

So we might challenge you in the coming week, to seek out those opportunities to be not only kind, but to be kind in a loving, benevolent manner. As Mother Teresa once said, “It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.” And if we go back to the beginning, our master is our finest teacher at doing good. God, works most freely in an environment of loving-kindness. Therefore, praying for miracles without praying in love is like petitioning in a foreign language. When we pray, we should do so not only with intention, but with love in our heart.

Act of Kindness ideas:

  • Ask someone how you might bless them
  • Cook a meal for someone in need
  • Write a hand-written note to someone, telling them what they mean to you.
  • Leave a thoughtful gift for someone anonymously
  • Pay for items for the person behind you in a queue

In a world where we can be and do anything, why not be kind. We need not do it for accolades or to soothe the ego, but because it is right and a moral responsibility. By acting towards another with genuine loving kindness, we can create a positive shift in not only their world, but ours as well.

Christmas Origins

Close your eyes and recollect your first memories of Christmas. Perhaps it was waking on Christmas morning and marveling, blurry eyed, at the spectacle laid before you. It can seem magical. Were there presents piled high under a magnificent, sparkling tree? And how could anyone resist the sheer excitement upon seeing the larger gifts, those much too big to hide behind wrapping paper.

If your childhood was similar to most, your first memory likely involved a jolly old man named Santa Claus, wearing a costume of red felt with white fir. How did our modern day Christmas evolve and where did this Santa Claus come from?

To understand the history of Christmas and the origins of Santa, one must travel back to the third century A.D. to a Greek area in Asia minor, now known as the southern coast of Turkey. Losing his parents at a young age, a young Christian named Nicholas, spent his entire inheritance in service to the needy.  With his devotion to God, he became Bishop of Myra and became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need and his love for the children.

The girls of that time could be sold into slavery if no dowry were available to prospective husbands. In remediation, stories claim of bags of gold found in homes, having been tossed through open windows and landing in socks or shoes, laid before the fire to dry. There are even stories of Nicholas bringing children back to life after untimely death. Therefore, St. Nicholas became the patron and protector of children. It’s also been said that the modern Santa Claus is a direct descendent of England’s Father Christmas, who was not originally a gift-giver. However, Father Christmas and his other European variations are modern incarnations of old pagan ideas about spirits who traveled the sky in midwinter.

The Christmas tree is a 15th-century German invention, but is derived from the pagan practice of bringing greenery indoors to decorate in midwinter. Midwinter was deemed a time of celebration for the completed harvest and the winter solstice. Hanging the tree upside down represented a triangle. appearing similar to a cross, it was used to explain the trinity. The tree skirt originated for two reasons, to catch the pine needles and also to protect the table or floor from drops of candle wax. Being one of the first to do so, president Grover Cleveland decorated his Christmas tree with lights in 1895, because his daughters liked them.

But let us not forget the religious tradition of Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ. By the late second century, Christ’s birth was celebrated on January 6th in the east (Egypt and Asia Minor) and on December 25th in the western Roman Empire. The modern Armenian church continues to celebrate Christmas on January 6; however, December 25 would prevail for most Christians, while January 6 eventually came to be known as the Feast of the Epiphany, commemorating the arrival of the magi in Bethlehem. The period between became the holiday season later known as the 12 days of Christmas. Christmas was declared a federal holiday June 26, 1870. The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in the year 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine.

How might this date be derived? It is said to be biblically anchored to the conception of St. John the Baptist, which took place on the Jewish feast of “Yom Kippur” (Day of Atonement), which normally falls between Sept 22-30th in our modern calendar. According to Luke 1:26, the conception of Jesus via the holy spirit took place six months after the conception of John the Baptist, or more precisely March 25th. March 25 + 9 months gestation = December 25th.

So it would seem that Christmas is a mix of both Christian and Pagan traditions, with gift giving added at a later time. In your gifting plans this year, don’t forget to bless the non-profit entities, who can spread your blessing to so many in need. They are the modern day St. Nicholas.

Cultivating Relationships

Once upon a time, there was a group of 50 people attending a seminar. Suddenly the speaker stopped and decided to do a group activity. He gave each attendee one balloon. Each person was asked to write his/her name on it using a marker pen. Then all the balloons were collected and put into another room.

They were then let into that room and asked to find their balloon within 5 minutes. Everyone was frantically searching for their name, colliding with each other, and pushing others around in utter chaos; and at the end of the 5 minutes, no one had found their own balloon. Then, each individual was asked to randomly collect a balloon and give it to the person whose name was written on it. Within minutes everyone had their own balloon.

The speaker then began, “This is happening in our lives. Everyone is frantically looking for happiness all around, not knowing where it is. Our happiness, he said, lies in the happiness of other people. Give them their happiness; you will get your own happiness. And this is the purpose of human life…the pursuit of happiness.”

In this story, we see that any one individual could not complete the task alone; they indeed needed the assistance of another. In our stubbornness, we can be quite adamant in our determination to accomplish life’s challenges on an individual basis. After all, if we go it alone and succeed, we gain all the accolades. However, life requires balance and social interaction is critical for mental and physical wellness. We each are born into a society that provides structure to our lives as it helps us to navigate the world and shape our personal identities. In that societal environment, we can find strength from collaboration in the face of adversity. And in that respect, perhaps pleasure and meaning can be found by valuing people more than things.

Another caveat of the story is the premise that by doing things for others to make them happy, we improve our emotional outcome. By giving to others, we give to ourselves, allowing the beauty of life to return, full circle.

In the World Happiness Report, the magnitude of social support experienced was listed as a key indicator to happiness. A Harvard Study looked at the correlation between happiness and the healthiness of our relationships. “The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health,” said Robert Waldinger, director of the study, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.”

Tips to help with your relationship cultivation:

Be authentic: Authenticity is about being true to yourself and behaving as the ‘true you’ in any and all circumstance. When you can be yourself and love who you are, you will draw in others that align with who you are, those who can bring depth to your presence and a coalition to your dreams and activities. When you engage in those dreams and activities with likeminded souls, joy enfolds.

Act with integrity: Integrity is a bit like ISO 9000 requirements, which involves saying what you’re going to do, then doing what you say. Integrity involves telling the truth, even when it’s ugly, and doing the right thing, even when it’s hard. When someone lacks integrity, they appear dishonest and untrustworthy. Aim to live in accordance to your deepest values, to be honest with everyone, and to always keep your word.

Be reliable: Be that person that can be counted on when the need arises, to consistently show up for others. If you behave in an unreliable manner, you basically make yourself disposable. Reliability creates stability in a relationship, it creates a structure that enhances trust and endurance. When your friends know that they can rely on you, you provide them calm assurance and a window into your other endearing traits.

Practice healthy communication: How we communicate with others can provide a framework for safe and healthy perspectives. Conversing in a healthy manner leads to clarity and greater empathy of each person’s feelings. Your non-verbal communication, or body language, can provide even more insight into how you’re feeling, perhaps more than words ever could. Be open and honest about your feelings and if things do escalate, always fight fair.

Be available: Being both physically and emotionally available is key to relationship longevity. Be willing to set aside time to spend with that special person and when you are with them, also be emotionally present. Be open with your thoughts and feelings and take time to listen to their questions, comments, and words of wisdom. Engage in meaningful activities while allowing creativity and adventure to flow.

Be willing to say you’re sorry and to forgive. We cannot and should not operate on an island. We were meant to interact with others, which can sometimes lead to conflict. Seek a mutual resolution when possible. If you are at fault, claim it. If they are at fault, forgive them. Seek to understand first, do not make assumptions, and give them the benefit of the doubt. When we make unhealthy assumptions, we create potential unnecessary angst and turbulence. Since we have not walked in the footsteps of others, judgment should be withheld.

Now I’d like to warn you of a pitfall with regards to the cultivation of relationships, and that is the expectation that someone else needs to make you happy. Yes, it’s true that meaningful relationships improve feelings of wellness, however, ultimately, happiness is an inside job. Depending on someone else to make you happy is giving up your power. If you give them the power to make you happy, you also give them the power to make you unhappy. You, and only you, are responsible for your joy. Don’t require someone else to fulfill that requirement. The reverse can also be emphasized. Don’t hold yourself responsible for someone else’s happiness. This mentality can keep you involved in a harmful relationship, simply because you do not want to disturb or disappoint the other. A healthy relationship does not put the burden of feeling happy on someone else. You do you first, making sure that your relationship with you is your first and foremost priority.

Relationships of all sorts, including those with pets, are a wonderful opportunity to experience great joy. We can laugh alone, but it doesn’t stir the soul like a hearty laughter with friends. Relationships provide love, safety, a sense of security, and that feel good hormone oxytocin. We can meander the storms alone, or dance in the rain with those we love. If you are feeling especially lonely, take the horse by the reins. Someone else may be feeling the same. There are various ways to seek out friendships. The internet provides great opportunities to join with other groups. There are Facebook groups, Meetup groups, and even Nextdoor groups. There are book clubs, sporting events, and churches. Consider a class in something you would love to learn. Set an intention to not only cherish the relationships you currently have, but to expand your territory into new ones.

“You will know a good friend when you are intoxicated with each other’s company because everything becomes good in the world.” ~Donald Pillai

Spirit of Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving Day approaches here in the US, it’s a time to give thanks to the people, circumstances, and gifts in our lives. As a fun way to illicit that spirit of thanksgiving in others, we can provide a gift to someone or to a community in need. May the following testimony open your heart and warm your soul.

“To the man in line behind me at the Gainesville Target, who saw that after hitting my grocery budget limit, I decided to put back my pumpkin spice candle and the cosmetics that I had picked out…

You didn’t know that I always save my stuff for last and usually end up putting it back.

You didn’t know that the two fussy kids that I had with me were only two out of four.

You didn’t know that I have postpartum depression from the youngest babe and that I use scent as a way to boost my mood.

You didn’t know that this week has been full of sick kids, parent-teacher conferences, and emergency dental visits and I was so looking forward to lighting that candle at nap time and just taking a minute to relax.

Even without knowing that, you saw me…  You saw me as a human, not just the mom in front of you that was distracted and going too slow. You heard me say that I’d like to put those items back and you said no, you would be getting them for me.”

This commentary, courtesy of “Love What Matters,” speaks to the challenges faced by those around us. It could be a person you failed to see because you were caught up in your own world, your own thoughts, your own purpose. We all struggle at times, but just remember, there is always someone struggling more. Always be kind, you never know what someone is going through. Take a moment when you are about your errands, to be situationally aware. Look for those opportunities to bless others. The returns are 10 fold, and in doing so, you also bless yourself.

In a bigger picture, the In the Spirit of Love Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization founded to help those in need. Each person is naturally born with a Spirit of Love. The foundations mission is to encourage each heart to live that Love. We are always looking to expand our reach thru hearts across the world who want to make a difference. Where there is great love, there is always miracles.

https://www.instagram.com/reel/ChIRsmhpNjc/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

The hungry children of Uganda, are but a fraction of those in need. Everyone is made to LOVE and be LOVED – Make a decision to LOVE others unconditionally. Don’t LOVE based on how someone treats you or how they look, simply just LOVE period! Challenge yourself to LOVE others because it is in your heart … it is who you are! When you let LOVE lead, you will be amazed at just how many miracles come through your acts of kindness. We thank you for your generosity and look forward to continuing with our mission through the tax deductible goodness of others.

You may go here to donate to the cause of love, with an option to designate the proceeds as you please.

You Matter

Sometimes a simple text, phone call, or email to check on someone makes a big difference. People need to know they matter. Life gets busy and most understand that but when you take a moment to Live it! By brightening someone’s day, the world gets a little brighter.

Who can you reach out to today to put a smile on their face and let them know they matter in this world?

Never underestimate the power of kindness for where there is great Love there are Miracles.

Live it!

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Leave Your Imprint On This World

Each day brings an opportunity to impact the lives around you in a positive way. People will not remember what position you held, what clothes you wore, what car you drove, or the house you lived in but they will remember how you made them feel. You can leave an amazing imprint in this world by being kind, considerate, and loving.

The people in your life and inner circle right now are not a coincidence. You are meant to have a positive impact on the lives around you.

Live it!

Light Up the World!

We have all witnessed when someone walks into the room and the whole room LIGHTS UP! They bring so much joy, light, kindness, and positivity! It is like a breath of fresh air!

Be that person!

You have a choice to bring goodness and positivity into this world or darkness and negativity. When you choose to bring goodness, you are the one walking into the room changing the atmosphere. Never underestimate the impact you have on others each day. Your smile and kind words can change everything. Live it!

Join us in bringing much-needed Love to the world.

Volunteer.

There are volunteer opportunities all around you. 💖 You can make a difference.😇

Some are in a position to make financial donations and others are not. It is not about the money. It is about the impact on a human life. 

Volunteer. 

If you have not volunteered before, it will be one of the most rewarding things you have done. If you are afraid, do it afraid. Face your fears and selflessly step forward to share the Love in your heart. If you have volunteered but it has been a while, we encourage you to volunteer. Someone needs your smile, hug, and helping hand. Live it!

Be The Change This World Needs

You can make a difference in making this world a better place. Many people don’t even try because it seems so overwhelming. But imagine if each person acted in kindness, extended a helping hand and cared for others. What a wonderful world it would be!

A couple of fun kindness health facts from Dartmouth.edu:

“Kindness is contagious! The positive effects of kindness are experienced in the brain of everyone who witnessed the act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to “pay it forward.” This means one good deed in a crowded area can create a domino effect and improve the day of dozens of people!”

And!

Did you know that “Witnessing acts of kindness produces oxytocin, occasionally referred to as the ‘love hormone’ which aids in lowering blood pressure and improving your overall heart-health. Oxytocin also increases our self-esteem and optimism, which is extra helpful when we’re in anxious or shy in a social situation.”

So never underestimate the difference a single act of kindness can make to the one you are helping and those who witnessed your act of kindness. You can change the world one heart at a time. 

Be the Change.

Do Something Nice for Someone Today

Do you know that you can start an amazing ripple of kindness today? One small act of caring for another can flow through heart after heart and reach the ends of the earth. Pause and think about that for a moment. Your hand reaching out to help another, your smile to light up a room and your kind words to lift someone up can change this world through a ripple of Love and kindness. Never underestimate how what seems like such a small gesture can make a significant impact in someone’s life.

Be kind.

Love one another.

Let’s restore hope in humanity. There are so many amazing HEARTS on this planet who are kind and full of LOVE. Together, we can change this world one heart at a time.