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On Fridays in July, I’m sharing short stories with a philosophical twist. I first read this story as a child when my oldest sister was sweet enough to buy me a hard cover copy of Aesop’s Fables; oh, how I loved that book. This Greek storyteller’s tales have been handed down for more than 2,500 years! They really are much more than children’s stories.
You’ve probably heard this one many times, there are hundreds of versions, but I decided to share it anyway because it has always been a good reminder for me that might doesn’t necessarily make “right” and we all have something to contribute. (I know we all like to believe that we don’t think we are better than others, but truth be told, we’ve all at sometime in our lives looked down our noses at someone . . .) Here’s to not feeling too full of ourselves!
The Lion and the Mouse
A small mouse crept up to a sleeping lion. The mouse admired the lion’s ears, his long whiskers and his great mane.
“Since he’s sleeping,” thought the mouse, “he’ll never suspect I’m here!”
With that, the little mouse climbed up onto the lion’s tail, ran across its back, slid down its leg and jumped off of its paw. The lion awoke and quickly caught the mouse between its claws.
“Please,” said the mouse, “let me go and I’ll come back and help you someday.”
The lion laughed, “You are so small! How could ever help me?” The lion laughed so hard he had to hold his belly! The mouse jumped to freedom and ran until she was far, far away.
The next day, two hunters came to the jungle. They went to the lion’s lair. They set a huge rope snare. When the lion came home that night, he stepped into the trap. He roared! He wept! But he couldn’t pull himself free.
The mouse heard the lion’s pitiful roar and came back to help him. The mouse eyed the trap and noticed the one thick rope that held it together. She began nibbling and nibbling until the rope broke. The lion was able to shake off the other ropes that held him tight. He stood up free again!
The lion turned to the mouse and said, “Dear friend, I was foolish to ridicule you for being small. You helped me by saving my life after all!”
Hope your weekend is filled with kindness and compassion and moments and ideas worth writing about or sharing with others 2500 years from now!
GIGO is an acronym in the computer field that means if you, the operator, puts “bad” or inaccurate data into a computer, the computer will release “bad” or inaccurate data out. GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out; a computer processes what you give it, nothing more.
I think life is like that, too. If we put garbage into our lives or into ourselves, that is what we get back. You see, I believe we can’t receive what we don’t already have or share. Huh? Well, if we lack or do not share kindness, generosity or love, I believe we will find it difficult to receive those gifts or their benefits, and that when they are offered or presented to us, we won’t be able to recognize, accept or experience them.
I find that when I’m feeling misunderstood or I think that others are being unkind, I’m always better off looking inside myself before I respond or criticize. When I take the time to ask myself, if my heart is full or if I’m feeling happy and fulfilled – before questioning or complaining about the actions or motives of others – I end-up feeling better and the situation works out better in the long run. An added bonus is that when I feel better, the world becomes a better place, and I find it easier to create the life I want.
Taking a few seconds to question my state of mind immediately shifts my perspective and helps me focus my attention where it can do me the most good – on myself and what I can change.
So, that’s what I’ve been thinking about this week. Nothing too profound or original, but something I try to remember and act on daily. I don’t accomplish my goal as often as I would like, but I’m working on it.
I truly believe GIGO, but prefer to put a positive spin on it: Kindness in, kindness out. Love in, love out. I call it “KIKO-LILO”, which now that I think about it, could be an acronym for happiness. Well, not exactly an acronym, but I think you know what I mean . . .
Have a great weekend.
The other day I was in a McDonald’s bathroom (hope this isn’t TMI – not sure what is worse: mentioning I was in a bathroom or admitting I have eaten at McDonald’s) anyway, because I was in the stall – yes, yes, I know TMI again, I missed seeing the women involved, but that really doesn’t matter, because it was their conversation that got to me.
One of the women had done something – I got the feeling she was a McDonald’s employee – and was apologizing profusely for it. I have no clue what she did, and it seemed likely from their interaction that they did not know each other. (No names were mentioned, and they left separately – these astute observations are no doubt a result of my listening to Sherlock Holmes old radio shows recently).
Here’s the thing – oh, and this was a few days before Christmas when everyone was rushing here and there trying to get all their last-minute-to-do’s done – the woman, who was at the receiving end of the apology said:
Don’t worry, honestly, there are some things we are responsible for and some things we are not, it is no problem.”
Or something like that (I wasn’t exactly in a position to jot her words down – more TMI, I know, I know), but the point is, she responded with calmness and kindness when it was pretty clear from the other woman’s elaborate apology that she could have gotten uppity, acted snippy, or responded angrily, but she didn’t.
I liked that. It was nice. It gave me a warm and cozy feeling – yes, I am now admitting to having a warm and cozy feeling in a bathroom stall. But I did.
Their brief conversation inspired me to be extra nice to people – you know the pay-it-forward (PIF) kind of little things: I took a woman’s grocery cart back after I had already taken mine back, made sure I really looked into people’s eyes when I was talking to them in stores, and paid someone’s toll. (Yes, these are really little things. Yes, I should do them all the time. And, yes, I am embarrassed to admit I don’t always remember to do that.)
Being more aware of how I interacted with folks, instead of the upcoming holiday and what was next on my to-do-list, made me feel better and the people I interacted with responded with extra kindness.
So I hope before this year ends and throughout the new year, the reaction of a kind anonymous woman in a McDonald’s restroom inspires you to pay it forward (PIF) – in a big or little way, to someone you know or someone you don’t. It really doesn’t matter, because the bottom line is – the nicer we are, the nicer the world becomes.
“It doesn’t have to be a big thing. It can just seem that way, depending who you do it for.”
Have a great day!
I did not know who Brian Davis was.
Or what PGA stood for (just figured that out).
Nor do I know much about golf as a sport. (Except what I have gleaned from watching sports movies like Tin Cup and The Greatest Game Ever Played – see my Courage Diet for more about why I watch sports movies.)
But a Yahoo sports headline caught my eye this morning.
Brian Davis reported a penalty on himself that probably would have gone completely unnoticed.
A penalty, which cost him a win and about $400,000.
But to a glass half-full kind-of girl, what he gained was much more important.
Those teeny moments when we act in accordance with how we hope we would act in a certain situation are priceless.
Doing the right thing feels good.
Feeling good increases our happiness.
Our happiness increases the likelihood that people around us will feel happy.
Happy people lived more fulfilled, creative, productive lives.
I am sure folks will soon be arguing Davis’ “true” motivation, Monday-morning-quarterbacking how he feels in retrospect, and why any of it is headline news.
But me, I am going to enjoy the moment.
Though not a big rule follower for the sake of following the rules, I’m filled with an overwhelming sense of awe and inspiration when I see or hear about someone doing something, which benefits others more than themselves; respects a seemingly outdated cultural norm based on being kind or reaches out to help someone in a simple but elegant way.
When people apologize with sincerity and humility,
hold doors open,
laugh at themselves,
give their seat to someone else,
respond with kindness to anger,
give-up the parking spot,
or touch someone gently.
To me these actions are like mini-epic novels – they blend courage, respect, integrity, kindness and lots of other good stuff into a few teeny, yet, everlasting moments.
I like that.