A long time ago I remember reading the starfish story for the first time. If you haven’t read it yet, it’ll take you one minute, here it is:
“Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.
Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”
adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)
Even now as an adult, I read this story and it touches my heart. So often we get caught up in ourselves, all of our own problems, and on occasion can loose sight what makes us truly happy in life. I believe there are two helpful stress reducers that can help us get back on track. They are gratitude and giving. You may have heard this a million times already, but time and time again, they prove to be true and largely contribute to our happiness.
I have recently been inspired by a TEDx talk regarding 365 Give in which people are doing one kind act per day for a whole year and teaching this to children. https://www.365give.ca/
Another organization worth taking a look at is the Kindness Offensive, who inspire people to perform random acts of kindness. http://thekindnessoffensive.com/
Next time you’re feeling down, try taking a breath, think of 3 things you are truly grateful for and do one kind act for someone else. I’d love to know if it makes a difference for you!