Today, I have a very satisfied feeling. It feels good and you want to try to capture it putting it in a mason jar so you are able to savour it when you need it. I am learning more in my life that doing the right thing give you a warm feeling that may be happiness. It is not something you feel after getting a present or buying something new. It is not an emotion invoked when someone goes out of their way to do something for you. It is elusive. You see it briefly and then it is gone. However, when you taste it, it is yours to pull around you and draw in its warmth.
What creates this feeling? While it may be different for everyone, for me it is one principle - doing the right thing. My mind is not what I would consider typical. It is much easier for me to stay home and in any type of routine than it is to venture out and go the extra mile. I want to act that way. My intentions are good but the flesh is weak and when it is time to act, often times I will turn back. That may surprise some people I interact with as my past is full of less than routine and includes much risk - changing careers, leaving successful companies, moving to places unknown, and traveling to place across the globe. However, I am a home body who gets into a routine and struggles to justify stepping out. How common is this? I hear it from others but it must be in a wide variety of degrees that others experience it.
Recently, we experienced a family trait that, while it did not shock me, it took us back. As a birthday/Christmas gift to my 85 year old father, I offered to take him and my mother to Omaha to see his brother and his sister. I offered to do it however it would work for them - a slow extended trip, an overnight, or a there and back. Granted, this is not easy for people in their 80s as one way trip is 5 hours in a car but it is palatable. As the scheduled time drew near, my father called and pulled out based on the difficulty of traveling for mom and breaking a routine. His reasoning is understandable but my objective was one thing. To offer whatever I could do to make it as painless as possible for him to see his beloved brother and his sister on her 80th birthday. I see in my father, my own desire to stay in a routine and embrace what is comfortable.
That said, each time I break out of what is comfortable to do something for another person - doing the right thing - I get this afterglow. A satisfied and warm feeling of "damn that was good." The feeling begins deep down and stirs with the short foggy feeling of knowing it is a good thing and along the path of stepping out and going through the act of giving, small rewards are experienced. Two day ago, I knew the right things to do this week was to make my wife's birthday special. She came from a world where birthdays were not a focus other than an acknowledgment. My family and, more specifically, my mother celebrated birthdays to the max. I believe that was ingrained in her from my grandmother who scorned you if you missed a birthday celebration. However, my mother added her own touch as she loved a party - Christmas, birthdays, and any reason to get together and make the day special.
I sent out a reminder earlier in the week to my children - reminder - your mother's birthday is Thursday - make it special - no gifts just be thoughtful. They each came through. All 3 were here for dinner and T skyed in from Spain at near midnight their local time. The gifts were minimal - a card and check (too big) from my parents, a card from an ex-coworker, facebook messages for 40 people, and numerous hugs. It was just what the doctor ordered. We had fun, we laughed, we had a couple drinks, and exchanged stories. This morning, K said to me - thank you for making yesterday special. She did not need to say it. I knew. It was not as if I had really done anything too special. It was more that I was one of many who recognize what my wife selflessly contributes.
K is an unusual cat. I call her "lucky" but inside it is easy to recognize, she makes her own luck. She works hard at doing things for others. She does not hesitate to do the little things we all think about but seldom do - she will cut out a a newspaper article and send it to someone or to go to a wake of distant people because she knows what it feels like to be supporting in unexpected ways. She sends so many cards, brief notes to acquaintances, and speaks to so many in uplifting ways that is slays me. She does it the right way and the way that you must give a gift to reap the full reward - she gives without expectation of getting ANYTHING in return. That simple (or difficult depending on your viewpoint) act is what delivers return one hundred fold. Doing the right thing with the right intend without expecting a return is what gives you happiness. I am convinced. Thank you K for teaching me that is your everyday life. You are a gift.