November 19, 2017

“Messenger of Happiness” by Kate Osier

“Oh!  Let me shed a little light

on someone’s path I pray.

I’d like to be a messenger

of happiness today.

It may be just a phone call,

a smile, or a prayer,

or a long-neglected letter

that smooths the edge of care.

I want to spread some happiness

in what I say or do.

I want to make life sweeter

for someone else. Don’t you?”

As we head into Thanksgiving week here in the USA, most of us are preparing to either play host or be a grateful guest at a gathering filled with family, food, warmth and joy. That is the ideal, anyway, although, as we all know, the realities of family dynamics and human interactions are sometimes far from ideal.

Still, gatherings like Thanksgiving and the rest of the Holiday Season give us the opportunity to practice a wonderful concept that I learned just this week from a story featured on my favorite positive TV news magazine, CBS Sunday Morning.

The billboard of a church in a poor part of Philadelphia that operates a daily free meal service for anyone who chooses to come in says simply, “All are welcome.  We practice Radical Hospitality here.”

 I looked up the word “hospitality” and it is defined as “A friendly welcome and kind or generous treatment offered to guests or strangers.” That’s a wonderful thing, no doubt.

 But RADICAL Hospitality goes beyond just being kind or generous to guests or strangers.  I believe it means putting your actions where your mouth is and doing something to PROVE to someone that you believe they are valuable. In fact, they are PRICELESS.  You may not know them personally, but you are willing to set aside your own Ego’s self-focus, personal judgments and typical conditions for reciprocating kindness in order to do something tangible to show them that you care about them and make them feel a sense of self-worth and value.

The featured church’s food program is supported by two restaurant partners, one of whom used to be a drug addict.  The two men own four successful restaurants and donate 100% of the profits from one of the four to the church. This support allows the church to feed a hot meal every day to the homeless, the elderly or anyone who just wants to come into a warm place for some camaraderie, amazing food and even more amazing service.

The restaurant supplies the same fabulous food to the church program that it serves to its own paying customers – far above the usual standards of a “soup kitchen.”  And the restaurant’s efficient young wait staff all volunteer unpaid on their own time to serve the “guests” (as they are always referred to), who are seated beneath beautiful stained glass windows in the sanctuary at big round tables covered with lovely linens, plates and silverware.

Some guests arrive trailing shopping carts filled with their belongings, while others look clean and presentable and may have been just living alone and in need of company. “They don’t care what you smell like,” as one older black lady said. The staff and volunteers don’t ask questions or judge them in any way; they simply practice Radical Hospitality by making them feel welcome and valued.

One homeless gentleman started crying on camera, saying that he didn’t think he’d be alive today if it weren’t for this program.  Not because he couldn’t get a meal somewhere else, but because he couldn’t be made to feel like a worthwhile human being anywhere else.

I think we are ALL capable of practicing Radical Hospitality.  It means going above and beyond – maybe in a small but a significant way – to make someone feel valued, appreciated and special.  That’s what my readers and I have been trying to do with our annual Pay It Forward Challenge.

 Your stories have been pouring in about the many wonderful big and little things you are doing to make others feel a measure of the joy that you feel as you count your blessings this Holiday Season. I find them SO inspiring!

Here are just two examples that illustrate beautifully the concept of giving Radical Hospitality:

  • One of my readers noticed an unkempt, clearly-homeless man sitting by himself in the café where she was having lunch. She went to the counter and told the owner she wanted to buy the man lunch AND a $25 gift card to use later.  The owner began to cry and told her that she had been trying to resist the urgings of other patrons who wanted the homeless man banned from the restaurant because his presence made them “uncomfortable.”  My reader’s support gave courage to the owner to continue to stand up for what she felt was right – offering kindness and hospitality to a fellow human being who needed it.
  • Another reader’s friend recently found the courage to end a toxic relationship and move herself and her teenage daughter into their own small apartment, leaving the emotionally abusive man she had been living with for years. Several of her friends pitched in to help her move, and as they were ordering pizza for dinner in her new place, my reader opened the refrigerator and saw that it was empty.  So she went to the store and bought everything her friend and her daughter would need to stock it.  Her generous gesture was a comparatively small sacrifice for her, but I am sure it gave a huge measure of comfort and hope to her friend, who was making the biggest change of her life.

Wherever you find yourself this Thanksgiving and the rest of the Holiday Season – with friends, family or just a beloved pet and the television — I hope you will be counting your own blessings and looking for ways to bless others with some Radical Hospitality, too.  That might mean preparing and sharing your favorite delicious dish or just listening patiently to an older relative who tells the same stories every year or a child who craves your attention and approval.

And even beyond that, how many ways can you find to express Radical Hospitality in your career, business or personal relationships?  What would it do to your sales results if you constantly looked for ways to make your customers feel valued and special?  How would it affect your business Team, prospective Team or work colleagues  if you made them feel they are the cream of the crop and you appreciate them every day?  And what about your own significant other, spouse or children? What ways can you find to surprise and delight those closest to you by treating them like treasured guests instead of taking them for granted?

Making those around us feel valued, special and appreciated is the essence of putting our own feelings of gratitude for our many blessings into Pay It Forward ACTION.  And, as the Law of Attraction (“energy attracts like energy”) teaches us, showing Radical Hospitality to others will always attract more of the same to us.

I look forward to sharing more inspiring stories with you soon!  In the meantime, I wish you and yours a very filling and FUL-filling Thanksgiving.  The blog will be taking the next weekend off so that I can share mine with those I love.  Your next Cup of Caroll will arrive on Sunday December 3!

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*************** Give Yourself the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ******************

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