Classic Life Lessons

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I learned recently the late beloved college basketball coach, John Wooden carried around a treasured gift from his father. On a tattered and aged piece of paper was the creed on which he based his life. I was so in awe of it I had to find out more about this Midwestern man who is touted as being “College basketball’s most successful coach” and named by ESPN “Coach of the Century.”

This amazing legend grew up on an Indiana farm. His childhood home had no electricity or indoor plumbing. As a high school basketball hero he led the home team to three consecutive finals. He married a lovely lady who played coronet in the school band. They were married for 53 years. Only death could separate them.

Okay, maybe you knew all that, but I didn’t. His “life list,” the creed his father bestowed upon him consists of seven simple sentences: “Be true to yourself. Make each day a masterpiece. Help others. Drink deeply from good books especially the Bible.

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Make friendship a fine art. Build a shelter for a rainy day. Pray for guidance, count and give thanks for your blessings every day.”

I now understand how this legendary coach could bring out of best in his players. He was authentic in a world where truly genuine human beings are rare. He role modeled wisdom, kindness, integrity and love. I also understand he had a very wise father who created a treasure map for his son. Somehow I think that trumps assets in a will. The life lessons teach if you follow the credo, your life will be rich and filled something more satisfying than wealth.

Wooden co-authored a book, “My Personal Best: Life Lessons from an All-American Journey. I want him to coach me so I’m going to read it. But in the meantime, I’ve decided to create my own life list. I’ll borrow some belonging to the coach and add things I need to work on like: Give love completely without keeping score and practice patience daily.

Perspectives. Inspirational quote typed on an old typewriter.

How about you? Would now be a good time to create a life list? I think no matter what your chronological stage of life, it’s never too late to chart a course for the rest of your time on this planet. Invest some time in it this week. As Coach Wooden would remind us, “Never cease trying to be the best you can be. That’s in your power.”

Kindness Lessons Learned from a Board Game

Free Happy Woman Enjoying Nature. Beauty Girl Outdoor.

Not long ago I was playing Monopoly with my two young nieces. At one point, Alina, who is six, decided she wanted to gift some cash to her sister whose bank account was rapidly dwindling. When I inquired of Alina why she would just give money away, she simply replied she had more than enough. At that moment I was torn between which lesson to impart. Was it more important to explain the object of the game was winning, or should I cast the rules aside and let Alina continue with her act of kindness?

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I needn’t have struggled with the decision because Aisaylnn, her ten-year-old sister, wisely stepped up to field this coaching moment. She very sweetly lavished praise on Alina and made it clear how much she appreciated the gesture. Aisalynn then explained a win was more meaningful if earned fairly.

Life Lesson

Without missing a beat, the game continued leaving me with a warm glow over what I had just experienced. The life-lesson lingered with me throughout the day causing me to examine my actions. How often have I acknowledged I had more than enough?  Do I give generously and frequently? Do I possess the bigheartedness of a little girl? Having pondered this I decided a kindness campaign is definitely something to keep on the front burner.

My Kindness Journal

I’m a tracker. Weighing, measuring and logging results are motivational in my world. Alina’s charitable example prompted me to initiate a Kindness Journal.

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Knowing at the end of the day I must log in a minimum of five benevolent or thoughtful acts keeps me in grace. Sometimes my actions involve giving physical items away as I truly do have more than enough. Other deeds may be as simple as reaching an item from the top shelf in the grocery for someone in a wheelchair.

Your Challenge

My challenge for you this week is to take kindness to heart by acting on it daily. Make a caring gesture expecting nothing in return. Typically your kind deed will live on. Here’s some geeky brain stuff: scientists have coined the term, “upstream reciprocity”

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to explain your act of generosity inspires others to also pay it forward. Another bonus: givers also experience a brain boost in a release of endorphins which are “feel-good” chemicals.

Each night when I finish my journal entries I cannot help but smile and think how much you can learn by playing a board game with a six and ten year old.

Please let me express my gratitude to you for reading Life on the Sunny Side. I welcome your comments and would love  input on how you raise the bar on kindness. 

Daily Kindness…No Strings Attached

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The Thanksgiving leftovers have long since vanished from the fridge; except for one cookie so beautiful I cannot bring myself to even remove the wrapper. A local pastry chef worked her magic creating that sweet work of art.

In addition to the cookie, I have another remnant from the past holiday. This one I created, it is intangible and something I will continue to possess.

Cookie

You see, this year I decided to put a spin on my usual Thanksgiving outreach. Rather than expressing my thanks to friends and family via Facebook posts, emails and colorful Hallmark cards, I spent Thanksgiving and each day since then executing actions that might elicit thankfulness.

Don’t get me wrong, gratitude was not the objective, actually quite the opposite. My premise was to focus my energy into random acts of kindness, no strings attached, no thanks required or needed. Okay, here’s the catch. Thinking up nice things to do for others is the easy part, executing is the fun part, but truly not caring if the deed ever gets even a small nod of thanks, is the hard part. At least it is for me.

For example, I am a very considerate driver. I happily wave people into my lane. I hold the door for others, in the grocery store I reach objects from the top shelf for strangers, let them cash out in front of me when they have just a few items, I volunteer at events and engage in community outreach. I do whatever I can to accommodate those around me, but I must confess I crave just a little payback. I silently fume a bit when a simple thank you is withheld.

My attitude changed earlier this month when I read this line from a prayer: “Blessed are those who give without expecting anything in return.” Okay, got the message. I needed to change my expectation. When I pondered this quote from Timber Hawkeye it really put me to shame: “Give without expecting anything in return. That is unconditional kindness…everything else is ego.” Oh, I am so busted. Wanting something in return was a way to feed my ego.

I’ll keep challenging myself daily to want nothing in return. Motivation to give should be pure and free of expectation. The good news is, I’ve been getting it right lately and realize there is an inherent payback.

Pear representing the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

The act of giving provides me with an enhanced sense of peace, love and joy. Thankfully, that is more than enough.