The Simple Path to Strengths-Based Well-Being: Do a Kindness

kindness | VIA strengths | PERMA | Theory of Well-BeingI was lost in the weekly after church dilemma – oatmeal raisin or white chocolate cranberry – when he sidled up beside me, linked his arm in mine and got so close, well, let’s just say we have different ideas about personal space.

“Did you hear about the little girl who sang for the Pope and the letter he wrote to her?” he asked.

Uh, no. Is this the set-up for a joke? Wait, I read something about a fourth grader who sang on Memorial Day in our little town and an anonymous veteran who sent a thank you letter to the local paper. And how does the Pope figure into a conversation at the snack table in this very Methodist church. And who is this guy, anyway? Why haven’t I noticed him before in the thirteen years I’ve been singing here?

He continued before my thoughts were fully formed.

“He told her that her singing was a blessing to him. You’re that girl to me.”

Once again, my brain processed faster than my voice, thinking how odd that he’d say this on a day I hadn’t sung a solo, not a single note by myself. Had he confused me with someone else?

“I love to sing” was all I could blurt.

“It shows, and I really appreciate it.”

I remembered my manners. Finally.

“Thank you.”

After chatting for a few more moments, we went our separate ways.

“ . . . we scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.”

Martin Seligman, Flourish

Agreed. Except for the “momentary” part.

Maybe it’s because I have this tendency to over think even the simplest things.

Or because I’d been struggling for ages with how to write about all of those “other” VIA Strengths, the ones that aren’t among my top five Signature Strengths, like, oh, say, kindness.

Or the way I’d been going in circles to find the best way to show others how to harness the power of the PERMA, the Theory of Well-Being in my writing, coaching and teaching.

Whatever the reasons, this brief, simple, heartfelt exchange is still boosting my well-being, days later.

It’s so simple really.

Do a kindness.

What kindness will you do today?

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3 thoughts on “The Simple Path to Strengths-Based Well-Being: Do a Kindness

  1. I remember some years ago being in a Boston Market. The person working behind the counter was “grumpy” – I said to her “you look like you’re a bit tired” – She completely changed and said “I’m working a 2nd shift and I’m missing my kids at home – so I am really tired.” It was amazing the change in her once someone cared.

  2. I used to sing a lot in church. This story was really touching to me. It’s a tender day at my house. I could taste the cookies. Sometimes you just don’t know how meaningful a story is. Thanks for telling it.

    1. Glad it spoke to you. 🙂

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