To illustrate the message of today’s blog I have to first share a story someone sent to me years ago that goes like this:
“Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.
The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.
The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Days and weeks passed.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself.
He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.
The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”
I thought about this story today when I found myself feeling down and discouraged about something. I was laying in bed thinking how nice it would be able to have that person in the story next to a window telling me about the amazing things outside to give me encouragement today. And then it hit me…that little voice that often whispers thoughts into my mind…the fastest way for me to feel better would be for me to BE the one sitting by the window giving encouragement to others…and with that my pity party abruptly came to an end. I began thinking of different people I could reach out to and encourage this week.
It’s amazing how fast we can overcome discouragement if we just turn our thoughts toward helping others instead of focusing on ourselves. So to that little voice in my head that helped remind me of what I’ve always known but had let myself forget…”thank you…message received.”
~Amy Rees Anderson (author of the book “What Awesome Looks Like: How To Excel in Business & Life” )