We have the power to profoundly impact others. I often forget this. Our behaviors, actions, and even thoughts affect not only us, but those around us as well. Often we are not even aware of how a small gesture or word can deeply impact another. This morning at work I found an envelope with my name on it. Inside was a coupon for a 3-course dinner for two at a nice Italian restaurant. There was a small note wrapped around the coupon that said, “Thank you so much for helping me the other week!” I help people daily at the yoga studio, I answer asinine questions (over and over again), I listen to people’s problems, I help people find their random lost objects they leave at the studio…nothing that would warrant a coupon of this nature, at least not in my mind.
I studied the name, no bells started ringing, no cartoon light bulbs went off over my head. I typed the name into the student database to come up empty handed. The woman who had given me this gift was not a student at the yoga studio. Hmmm… There was the woman who recently lost her husband and wandered into the studio the other week because she wanted to start taking care of herself after years of taking care of her ailing husband. I had comforted her while she cried and affirmed that she did indeed need to start taking care of herself again. There was the woman with severe Parkinson’s who had wandered in because she thought we offered Tai Chi. I had spoken with her at length about different types of exercises that have been clinically shown to help Parkinson symptoms. Neither of them seemed like likely candidates, but they were the only people I remembered really going out of my way for.
Midway through yoga class the proverbial light bulb does go off over my head. I suddenly know exactly who gave me the coupon. I’m so excited that I have figured it out I want to stop and tell everyone. Thankfully, my impulse control was somewhat intact during class. A few weeks ago I wrote about finding a diamond that had fallen out of a woman’s wedding ring at the studio. This was who had given me the coupon. It all made sense now. It still felt like a very generous gift. My taking a few minutes out of my day to look in the studio and call her didn’t feel like anything all that significant. For her it meant a great deal, clearly. I was deeply touched by her gesture and gift. I was also reminded of how important it is to be mindful of how we engage with others and what importance small acts of kindness have.