kindnessThere is an ancient story about a young girl who, walking through a meadow, spotted a butterfly impaled on a thorn.  Carefully, she released the butterfly, which quickly flitted away, but soon turned around and came back.  Before the girl’s eyes, the butterfly changed into a beautiful fairy. 

“For your kindness,” she told the young girl, “I will grant your fondest wish.” 

The little girl thought for a moment and answered, “I want to be happy.”

The fairy leaned toward her, whispered in her ear and then suddenly vanished.

As the girl grew, no one in the land was happier than she.  Whenever anyone asked her for the secret of her happiness, she would simply smile and say , “I listened to a good fairy.”

When she became old, the neighbors were afraid the wonderful secret might die with her.  “Tell us,” the begged.  “Tell us what the fairy said.” 

The lovely old lady simply smiled and said, “She told me that everyone, no matter how secure they seem, has need of me.”

This is the secret to finding fulfillment in day-to-day living.  Dr. Hans Selye, the acknowledged “father of stress,” studied the affects of stress on people and observed that stress is reduces when people make an effort to win the gratitude of others.  Selye rephrased the biblical quote “Love neighbor as you love yourself” into his own personal code for living: “Earn your neighbor’s love.”  Rather than trying to accumulate more money or power, he suggests we acquire good will by helping others.  “Hoard good will,” he advices, “and your house will be a storehouse of happiness.”

Making ourselves indispensable means making others look good. 

The famous New York Philharmonic conductor Leonard Bernstein was once asked to name the most difficult instrument to play.  He responded with quick wit: “Second fiddle.”