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SOUCHERAY - Kindness: The secret to happiness

I know I have written about taking time, as well as the benefits of being kind. With this in mind, let me share a small article I came across from my Prevention magazine, dated October 2007.

I saved it because I liked the optimistic, positive attitude conveyed in the writing. In this particular case, the benefits of being randomly kind were extolled and presented as a fantastic impetus in boosting our own happiness quotient.

The article states that performing a mere five random acts of kindness each day will enhance our sense of well-being and contentment. Imagine that?

Simply being kind five times every day will give us a sense of pleasure and satisfaction with our lives.

It doesn't seem quite right to think we will gain so much from being kind to others. The kindnesses suggested in the article include buying a latte for a coworker or giving up our seat on a bus for someone who needs to sit down.

The article suggests that the payment we receive will far outweigh the amount of effort we invest in doing good deeds for others.

I don't know about you, but I find the greatest hindrance to engaging in behavior that benefits someone else is feeling overwhelmed and busy in my own life.

It's not that I am unconcerned about other people, but simply that I have run out of time in my day.

It's not that I don't want to be kind, it's that I may be running late and don't think I have the time to lend someone else a hand.

Thinking like this is disappointing to me. When I come to the point that I realize my life is this busy, I want to say "Stop, this is my life!" But then I realize that my work has certain expectations, and those must be met.

I realize that my family has certain needs, and those must be met. My extended family and parents have needs, and those too must be met.

I am the kind of mother who believed in raising our kids to be self-reliant and self-sufficient.

I took a Play Therapy class in a graduate program and on the way home, I was inspired to stop at the store and buy a small, Matchbox fire truck.

It sits to this day on our kitchen windowsill to remind me not to run to the scene of the fire. If one of our children started a fire, figuratively, not literally, they must also have the capability to extinguish it.

My part is to stay back and stay out of it and support them to find the resources within themselves to manage the problem.

With thinking such as this, you must wonder why I have not created a life where I can leisurely sit and relax for an hour every day and read a book.

Unfortunately, this is not the case.

As I encouraged others to manage their own lives, I went ahead and created one of my own, which is what we are supposed to do as adults.

We are supposed to discover our interests and gifts and find ways to express these. Sometimes, however, it can be easy to overdo it.

Our family is currently coming up to a major turning point.

Our daughter is married, our older son is graduating from college in a few months, and our younger son will be heading off to college at the same time.

We will soon be empty-nesters.

Isn't it interesting that having extra time ahead can be the cause of stress, rather than the pleasure that it is intended to be?

It is so easy to fill our lives with all sorts of busyness and activity, rather than to wait and see what kind of energy and interest we have when we arrive at such a turning point?

Turning points and changes in a family composition can be a time of renewal and transformation.

With this time of change can also come the space to extend ourselves in kindness to others.

This can be the very time of our lives to engage in those five random acts of kindness every day, which will not only bring a feeling of goodness to ourselves, but will also improve the quality of life for others.

As we live each day of our lives, may we take into account the energy we have to give, what that giving will require, and pull back just a bit so we have something to offer by way of a helping hand to others.