I keep a “cheer-ups” file for paper treasures that strengthen me when I hit a snag of desolation. I realized this week that the manila folder reminds me of happy warriors, those special people Chris Lowney talks about in Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World), when he writes, “Answer this hurting world’s call for happy warriors.”
Cards from friends, inspirational quotes, love notes from grandchildren, postcards, and printouts of e-mails encourage me when I pull the file out and flip through it.
Today I needed that file; I found a card from Mary, who recently died at 92. She always made people smile, and she laughed when most people would cringe. She often put a dollar in a birthday card, writing, “Go have an ice cream!” Seeing her handwriting made me laugh again. She made every day matter by her humor and smile.
And I found a copy of an e-mail from 2008, when I was working on a church fundraising campaign:
I want to tell you how much your support for me meant during the past year—more than you might imagine or that I can express. It’s amazing the subtle gifts we unexpectedly receive from people we hardly know. . . your card and e-mails mean more than you know. Thank you.
Wow. I cannot remember what I did or said to influence the writer of the e-mail. But his note back to me meant enough that I kept it 10 years! Lowney tells a story like this in his book, illustrating that we profoundly influence others without realizing it.
For instance, I remember being a cashier in college. I easily smiled at customers, but when a curmudgeon came through the line, I found it impossible to smile at the following customer. It wasn’t until a genuinely smiling face looked at me that I regained my smile. I never forgot how those strangers affected me in those few minutes. I learned to try to make my smile contagious.
If you don’t have a cheer-ups file, start one today. Include cards like valentines and notes that begin: Mom, you’ve helped me through my darkest moments….
In addition to the paper files, I save cheer-ups in a special folder on my computer. I call my folder “Justin Case.” The pun makes me smile, and that’s a good thing. It helps me store up new strength for when desolation strikes, because it surely will.
Reading the cheer-ups and Lowney’s book, I’m reminded of reasons I have to be grateful. God’s Spirit is at work. Take time to remember a kindness. Its ripple effect can change the world.
Get your copy of Make Today Matter here.