Updated: Feb 15, 2018
I recently received a New Year card from dear family friends, parents of my sweet friend Karson, who lost her 10-year battle with cancer last summer, and the subject of this tribute I wrote back in August. Their typical year-in-review newsletter punctuated with a series of family photos of the year was replaced with one beautiful photo of the family with an ever-smiling Karson and a short message.
The message was anchored with this quote:
“What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?” – George Eliot
It was a short and sweet note thanking friends and family for making life less difficult for them since they lost Karson. It had made a difference for them.
I received this card and felt a mix of emotions – sadness for the loss and also uplifted by the happy photo of my friend, which went right to the center of the fridge. And I thought the message was poignant and thoughtful.
But the quote has started following me around.
It's been echoing in my mind the past several weeks, resonating more and more in my daily life. I subconsciously find myself recognizing ways to ease another’s burden, even if it’s just for an instant or by removing a tiny part of their load.
I’ve reflected on how, in my own difficult times, there were people who have shown up and said ‘I see you. You don’t have to do this completely on your own, I am here to help.’ It really does make all of the difference in the world.
And yes, we’ve all done the Random Acts of Kindness thing and I’m such a fan of that type of action as well, but this feels less random and more targeted.
I’ve been loving all of the new commercials this past week while watching the Olympics. But this one by Mass Mutual completely moved me and, again, brought the words back to my mind. Check it out if you have an extra 2 minutes, it's a good way to spend them.
The quote is no longer hanging out in my subconscious. It has moved to the front of the line. It’s attracting opportunities to make life less difficult, which I plan to take.
And I thought, why not bring it to the forefront of your mind too? You know, life is good, as they say. Filled with beauty, love, possibilities. But sometimes, it can be just plain difficult.
So, consider showing up for your friend who’s having a particularly hard time. Even with just a quick text message.
Take a meal to a family who just had a baby, or lost a loved one or a pet.
Help someone with a move.
Let someone in front of you in bad traffic.
Bring treats to a tough meeting or a long work day.
Offer to babysit.
Finally do that volunteering with the local organization you've been meaning to get involved with.
Drop off soup to someone who has the flu.
Take your child out for a special activity when they’ve had a rough week.
Leave a note for your spouse or friend when they could use a few of your encouraging words.
Show appreciation for someone in your community who has a challenging job.
Whatever your unique skill is, offer it pro bono to someone who could use it.
Ask yourself, how am I serving the world?
Listen, these aren’t new ideas. But rather a little reminder for those of us who occasionally get stuck on autopilot. It feels good to lift others up. It creates an energy or a buzz for all people involved. And it’s an easy choice.
It's natural to see hardship and suffering and want to fix it all. But making things just a little less difficult for even one person seems like a good place to start.