“Even the largest avalanche is triggered by small things.”– Vernor Vinge
My two-year old son thinks ears are handles for the head. Whenever it is time for him to go to sleep, he grabs my ears and pulls my head down until our foreheads are touching. He has done this since he was an infant. This is one of the greatest joys of my life–having my ears cradled by my sleeping son. Lying next to his chubby face with his soft breath caressing my cheek has taught me some valuable lessons about life in general.
Reach out and touch someone–I know that this is a cheesy phone slogan from the seventies, but it is especially important in this day and age when we poke, ping, tag, like, and follow others all day on the internet, but we rarely see or touch them. When you have the opportunity to see someone in person why not hug them? Hold your loved one’s hand walking to their doctors appointment. Put your arms around your kids while sitting in church. Play footsy with your spouse at the dinner table.
Listen and not just with your ears–the first part of this lesson is to just shut up and listen. We spend so much time talking, chatting, posting, and texting that we rarely just listen. Try to go through a whole conversation with a group of friends without talking. Torture isn’t it. We often only listen for breaks in the conversation where we can jump in and tell everyone what is really important. When you are waiting for your son to go to sleep at 8:30 in the night, you have no choice but to listen.
Also, listen to other forms of communication. Try to feel your spouse’s heartbeat when they walk through the front door after a long day at the office. Read your child’s body language when you ask them what happened at school. By the way, if you are touching someone, it is a lot easier to read non-verbal signs of anxiety, sadness, joy, or peace of mind.
Look others in the eyes–I stole this one from Modern Family, “Always look people in the eye, even if they are blind. Just say, ‘I’m looking you in the eye.'” My son insists on seeing eye to eye before he closes his puffy lids to go to sleep. I have noticed, however, how little we look people in the eye. Whenever I walk my kids to school, people we pass on the sidewalk rarely look at my face much less my eyes. I make it a point to remind my son and myself to look the person we harmed straight in the eyes while apologizing. The same goes for thank yous.
Hold your loved ones close–I tend to try to please everyone. One thing my wife noticed was that I would go out of my way to please my friends at the expense of my family. I would accept invitations without consulting my wife or children because I didn’t want to jeopardize my friendships. Little did I know I was jeopardizing my marriage. Now I put my loved ones first. See, honey, I get it.
Make the ones you love your number one priority in life. When my son grips my ears right before he falls asleep, I know that I am the most important person in his life at that moment. This is an incredible feeling. Make your loved ones feel this way.
Don’t let go–If you find someone you love and they love you back, don’t let go. It is so easy in our instant gratification lifestyle to feel the urge to upgrade, exchange, or delete something that doesn’t seem to be working. Love doesn’t work this way. If you commit to someone, love them in good times and bad. When I try to sneak away from my son, this is when he holds me the tightest. When your spouse is at their worst, this is when you need to surround them with love, even from a distance. The same goes for any relationship.
I hope these lessons from the small act my son does right before sleeping cause an avalanche of love and happiness in your life.
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What small acts of kindness have affected your life in a significant way? Please share.