I have to share this with you because it’s just so cute. As I walked into the Survivor’s Symposium I attended a few weeks ago, a Girl Scout volunteer handed me a gauze bag. Inside, I found a beautiful hand-painted Heart of Hope from by my favorite grief support organization, Interregnum, Inc.The heart is beautiful, as I am sure you will agree. But, it was the message that accompanied it that melted my heart. Michael in the ‘sekond grade” wrote me a little letter of love and encouragement.
Michael’s “favirote sport team is Giants,” and “favirote food is french frise.” He closed strong, “Believe in yourself! Follow your dreams! Think positive!”
In the bag, I also found the following: Your heart was painted by an elementary school student from Verona, NJ. The children were inspired to participate in this program by their art teacher, Mrs. J, who is a breast cancer survivor. She received a “Heart of Hope” during her treatment at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, NJ, and is now actively serving as a volunteer in an effort to help others.
I learned something last week, which Michael’s little heart and message amplify today. When you live your gratitude, you may think all you are doing is paying it back. But, and this is so pivotal, you’re also paying it forward, because gratitude expressed doesn’t stop short there.
Oh no. Instead it keeps traveling out in concentric circles like a ripple on a pond. When wrote the email I blogged about on Monday, I thought I was just saying “thank you.” But I accomplished so much more. I accomplished having a positive impact on someone’s career. And now she can resume having the same positive impact on other patients and their healing that she had on me.
That’s what Mrs. J is doing, by inspiring elementary school children to reach out to cancer survivors and touch their hearts with hope and encouragement. By volunteering with Hearts of Hope, she isn’t just saying thank you for the heart she received. She is pushing her gratitude out into the world, concentric circle by concentric circle. And people she has never met are benefited.
A heartfelt “thank you” is a form of giving back. Think of it as magical currency, which pays the recipient back and then exponentially expands outward with limitless possibility.
I like the idea of paying it back and forward at the same time. I’m definitely going to do more of it. Are you?
Survival > Existence,