Friday, October 30, 2020

A Simple Habit That Can Change Everything


Do you remember the story of the sailor who over-imbibed and fell asleep at his table? His buddies smeared a bit of strong smelling cheese dip on his mustache, which caused him to wake up and look around. He sniffed and then walked outside, sniffed again and came back in, walked out and back in one more time and finally sat down in his seat. “It’s no use,” he said to his friend, “the whole world stinks.”

Ever felt that way? We have all experienced bad days and horrible situations. We’ve felt trapped, helpless and, at times, hopeless. And sometimes it seems that the whole world stinks.

But I heard of one woman who learned never to view things that way. She grew up in extreme poverty and had every reason to think that her world, at least, stinks. But as a girl, she was privileged to be in a Sunday School class taught by a young woman named Alice Freeman. Freeman was later to become president of Wellesley College at age 26. (As an aside, she would later marry and become known as Alice Freeman Palmer, a renown advocate for education for women.) But let me continue with the little girl’s story.

One Sunday, Freeman asked the children to find something beautiful in their homes, and then tell the other children about it the next week. The following Sunday, when the little girl was asked what she found that was beautiful at home, she thought of her impoverished condition and replied, “Nothing. There’s nothing beautiful where I live, except...except the sunshine on our baby’s curls.”

Years later, long after Alice Freeman Palmer’s untimely death, her husband George was lecturing at a university in the western United States. He was approached by a distinguished looking woman who fondly recalled that, as a child, she attended his wife’s Sunday School class. Then she related this story:

“I can remember that your wife once asked us to find something beautiful in our homes, and that I came back saying the only beautiful thing I could find was the sunshine on my sister’s curls. But that assignment your wife made was the turning point in my life. I began to look for something beautiful wherever I was, and I’ve been doing it ever since.” 

That one simple act, repeated every day, became a powerful means of lifelong transformation for that woman.

If you have been thinking your “whole world stinks,” the daily habit of looking for something beautiful can help you see the good that actually exists wherever you are. You’ll see beauty that others miss. And you’ll never view your life the same again. 

It’s a simple habit that can change everything.

-- Steve Goodier

Image: flickr.com/zehhhra

1 comment:

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