I read a phrase yesterday that struck a chord with me as it echoes the way that I have been trying to live my life recently :
‘If you can lay down at night, knowing in your heart that you made someone’s day just a little bit better, you know you had a good day’
It struck me that this is a motto that I apply to my life, so much so that I have been keeping a record of the ‘good deeds’ that I do , since mid-January, to be able to look back on when I am low again in the future, to remind myself that I was able to brighten other people’s days, so it is my own self-help therapy. They do not have to be grand gestures to make ‘someone’s day just a little bit better’ but I feel that something unexpected helps:
I bake and deliver surprise sweet treats to brighten somebody’s day ; I posted Valentines shortbread hearts through a few friends’ doors for instance. I took a couple of slices of ginger cakes to my ex-boss and his wife. Joshua and I just knocked on the door and delivered it. They were both so clearly delighted , with both the sweet treat and the spontaneous visit, that last week, I baked them a whole cake and took it around. I am pretty confident that it made their day a bit brighter and as it keeps moist for a while, it will last them all week. I know who likes which of my recipes best : on Friday I texted an ex- colleague to invite her to collect some cheese straws, her favourite, on her way home. She was not expecting them so that will have ended her working week well.
There is a lady who jogs and walks past our house most days and she is always cheery. One day she was quiet and seemed to have been crying. So I stopped on my dog walk to ask her if she was alright. She told me that no, her husband had just been diagnosed with cancer and she was really worried about him as he was not getting out of bed or eating. I listened to her story and knew that I could not solve her problem, but I could perhaps help tempt him to eat. So I have been leaving out some baking for her to collect on her walk to try to tempt him with. The first time I did it, she said that I had ‘made her day’ which was of course, the point of the gesture.
I write letters to surprise people : It shows that I have been thinking of them enough to put pen to paper in an old fashioned way. While email is convenient and instant, there is no comparison to a hand written letter ,as it is more personal in a way. It certainly brightens days to have a newsy letter arrive unexpectedly through the letterbox. I have been writing several letters a week since mid January and I hope to keep it up.
Those are both low cost ways to delight someone, of course spontaneous gifts, no matter how silly, also serve the same purpose as they demonstrate that I was thinking of the recipient. I visited a friend from Joshua’s school last week, who I used to see regularly at my school coffee mornings, who is going through a painful time at the moment. The visit was planned in, but she was not expecting some home baking which I left behind for her and her son to enjoy and she told me yesterday that it had all gone down well. I also gave her a wish string; it is a small charm on a string and you tie it to your wrist, make a wish and when it breaks, your wish might come true. I have had several wish strings over the years and my last wish came true. I gave her more than a piece of jewellry, I gave her some hope, I hope.
So I know that, since the middle of January, I have been able to make a few people’s days a little bit better, which in turn means that I have had many good days.