Early spring in my neighborhood in Los Angeles is a heavenly time to lie in bed at night with the windows open. The orange trees in front of my apartment building are blooming. Orange blossoms, while fragrant during the day, become intoxicating at night. The sweet perfume wafts invisibly in on the light evening breeze and collects heavily within my room.
For such a powerful fragrance, orange blossoms are actually very small. One sunny day I spent thirty minutes picking up many of the tiny, paper-thin blooms that had fallen from the trees. Seeing them from below is deceiving. Only when I was squatted on the ground did I truly appreciate how little the flowers are. It takes quite a number of them to fill even the smallest package. But I carried on, determined.
Squatting and kneeling under my orange trees, I picked up hundreds of blossoms, cramming them into a teeny ziplock baggie until it was bursting. I found a cheerful greeting card, put the sealed package of orange blossoms inside, and mailed it to my mother. With everything my mother has done in life, of all the places she’s traveled throughout the world, she confessed that she had not once smelled orange blossoms.
As I sealed the envelope, I felt the excitement of her surprise at opening the card. Of her wondering for a moment what in the world I’d sent her. Of her opening the teeny ziplock bag, and for the first time breathing deeply, taking in the intoxicating fra grance, the smell of my love for her in the form of orange blossoms.
Acts of Kindness Provide Deep Contentment
I’ve learned that acts of kindness provide me deep contentment. Knowing I helped brighten someone’s day makes my heart feel full long after the event itself has passed. Thoughtfulness is the action that emotionally connects me to the people I know and also to people I may never meet.
Early on a summer evening I watched a car pull up and park in front of my home. Without reading the posted parking signs, three young adults got out and walked up the street. Thinking they were possibly visiting a neighbor, I waited a few minutes to see if they returned with a parking pass. When they did not come back, I guessed they had gone to a local restaurant.
Although it was their responsibility to read the signs, I knew how I would feel if I returned from a fun evening to find a costly parking ticket. Instead of having them learn the hard way, I wanted to alert them to the parking restrictions through a positive experience.
As a resident, I am able to receive a special number from the police department that allows visitors to park. I called for the number and taped it to their car’s windshield for the parking officer to see. I also left a note on the driver’s side window that said, “I did not want you to receive a ticket, since there is no parking on this street after 6:00 p.m. without a pass.” A few hours later, the car was gone. All that night and well into the next day, I had the amazing feeling that comes from performing an anonymous act of kindness.
Although we may never meet the people we help, being kind puts us in the position of understanding how others feel. Kindness is having empathy so we become enriched by another’s happiness. And upset by another’s anguish.
Creating A Happy Ending For Someone Else
One day I found a dog wandering alone in my neighborhood. When I called the number on her tag, I got an answering machine. After I left a message with my contact information, I took the dog to my home.
Soon the phone rang, and an excited young man said he was on his way over. The dog and I went outside to wait. As the young man approached, the dog began to wiggle and bark. After clipping the leash to her collar, the young man turned to me with tears in his eyes.
“Thank you so much for finding Honey. I’m visiting my parents and the gardeners left the gate open. I didn’t even realize she was gone,” he said, as he reached out to hug me tight.
“You are welcome,” I replied.
It was the best feeling, being in the right place at the right time to help reunite a pet with the person who loved her. Being kind sometimes results in creating a happy ending for someone else.
Surprise Someone With A Gift Of Kind-heartedness
Each year my mom and dad’s church holds an auction to raise funds for the community projects it supports. My father is an avid fly fisherman who enjoys tying his own flies. In preparation for the auction, my dad spent several weeks tying flies as his donation. Day after day, he carefully created the tiny lifelike insects, and when he finished, he gently placed each in its own section of a plastic box. In the end there were about forty of his handcrafted flies.
Before the auction, my mom told me about my dad’s efforts. I secretly arranged with the auctioneer to be on the phone so I could bid. The big day arrived, and when it was time for my dad’s item, I received a phone call. The bidding started at twenty-five dollars. Of course, I raised that to thirty dollars. It was countered at thirty-five dollars. I quickly bid forty. Apparently, someone in the audience wanted my dad’s creations, too.
The bidding bounced back and forth between the two of us, until at sixty-five dollars I went for it and bid one hundred dollars.
“Going once . . . going twice . . . sold to the mystery caller on the phone,” I heard the auctioneer say. He asked me to hold while he put my dad on the phone. No one in the audience, except Mom, knew who was on the other end of the line until I said, “Hello, Daddy. I’m so glad I got your beautiful flies.” With that, my sweet father burst into tears of joy. He was so happy and surprised to hear it was me on the other end of the line. He turned to the crowd and said, “It’s my daughter from California.” The entire place erupted with applause.
It feels amazing to be in the position to surprise someone with a gift of kind-heartedness that touches both of you. Being kind creates lasting pleasant memories. Compassion and caring also create win-win relationships where both the giver and receiver benefit.
Seeing And Unconditionally Loving The Soul Within Others
My sister and brother-in-law mentor inner city youth and provide a consistent motivational presence. After graduating high school, one of the young men they mentored decided he wanted a career in the military. They helped him enlist and were there to comfort him as he shared his reservations about being stationed abroad. They were the only people he knew to attend his graduation from boot camp.
Many times family is more a matter of heart than blood. Frequently the compassion and attention we share by being kind to those who enter our life turns out to be their single most important source of encouragement and influence. Someone who is treated with kindness becomes more likely to pass compassion and assistance on to others.
One day I took a walk along the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. Leaning against a stoplight was a young man of about twenty-five. He was holding a sign that read, “Help, please. Down on my luck.”
He did not look up as I approached. I took five dollars out of my wallet, touched his arm, and said, “Here, take this.”
When he did look up, he gently took the money and smiled. I noticed that his teeth were badly deteriorated—a sign of possible methamphetamine abuse. Yet within his pale blue eyes there was a familiar, alert presence.
I squeezed his arm and told him, “Respect yourself, you are worth it.” He said, “Thank you. Your words mean a lot.”
I kept my hand resting on his arm for a few seconds until the light changed, then I stepped off the curb and into the street. Halfway through the intersection, my tears began.
One significant heart-lesson I live by is that every soul is whole, no matter how wounded the human being. Lead with your heart and look beyond the outer human to clearly see and unconditionally love the soul within. Begin with yourself.
Express Your Good And Charitable Heart
Each day you and I are given countless opportunities to express our good and charitable heart. Regardless of what form they take, the kindness and caring we give others not only help them, they also create positive energy that returns to us in so many different ways.
Kindness connects us to other people, reducing feelings of loneliness and emotional isolation. Caring and generous people attract giving people to them. By being considerate people, we will be liked by others.
Compassion decreases anger and depression and increases positive feelings and our general outlook on life. Being generous, affectionate, and nurturing promotes the release of endorphins that make us happy and calm and improve our sense of well-being.
Acts of generosity and empathy keep us connected to the emotional warmth of our heart. Not only does being kind keep us heart-centered, researchers have found that kindness makes our heart healthier, too, because emotional warmth produces hormones in the brain and throughout the body that help lower blood pressure.
Treating other people as you want to be treated is the foundation of all the world’s religions and spiritual practices. There is a very good reason compassion is so revered. The energy we put out is returned to us.
Freely offer your shoulder for someone to cry on, your arms to hold someone safe, and a friendly ear to listen. Each act of kindness you give will come back to you.
©2014 by Regina Cates. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Hierophant Publishing. www.hierophantpublishing.com
Throughout this book, Regina shares her amazing (and often heart-wrenching) stories of how she moved away from a volatile, victimized frame of mind to a place of making conscious actions and decisions from a centered, heart-driven state. By following along with Regina's personal stories and practicing the exercises she's developed, we can all learn how to choose positive, heart-centered solutions for the difficulties in our life.
About the Author
Regina Cates is the co-founder of Romancing Your Soul, and her Romancing Your Soul Facebook page has over 150,000 engaged followers. Regina conducts workshops, teleclasses and one-on-one sessions to help people uncover love and meaningfulness in their lives. She lives in Los Angeles, CA. Visit her website at: romancingyoursoul.com
Watch a video: Drop The Comparison and Competition (with Regina Cates)