If I could share 500 words to inspire, this is the important wisdom I'd want to pass along to others...
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” – The Dalai Lama
I’ve always thought of myself as a kind person. But in my fourth decade of life, I learned what true kindness is. A brain surgeon had just asked me if I would give my daughter’s vital organs to strangers. Maya, 19, had been declared brain dead and doctors had signed her death certificate. They were preparing to remove the machines keeping her heart pumping and her lungs breathing.
I was frozen with grief, paralyzed by anguish I thought I would never outlive. But I heard myself say “Yes!” to the doctor’s request.
In that moment I made a decision that would change my life forever, and radically alter the lives of countless others. Four people’s lives were saved, two people had their sight restored, and dozens benefitted from Maya’s bone and skin tissues which were processed and stored. Through the miracle of donation and transplantation, families were kept whole, and people on the verge of death found new life and strength.
Here are the lessons I carry with me, ones I remind myself of often:
1. Help others at every opportunity. When you are down or hurting, helping others helps you just as much. Generosity is healing and helps you overcome challenges, including grief or depression. It takes you away from your troubles and increases your kindness quotient.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff. I used to fume over parking spaces, late bills, missed calls, rude people, you name it. Now, I know they are a normal part of life for everyone, including me. I don’t take it personally. Keep a sense of perspective. Ask yourself, “Will this matter in five years, or even tomorrow?”
3. Share your love. It’s a funny thing about love. Giving it away makes it grow. You’ll never diminish love by sharing it. Love is infinite. It cannot be divided. Only multiplied. So be generous with hugs, kind words, praise, and encouragement. Everyone wins!
4. Be grateful for everything. Take nothing for granted. Life can change – or end – in a moment. Every breath, every sunbeam, every smile is a priceless gift. Keep a gratitude journal and write in it each night – at least three things you are grateful for. It will change your life, I promise.
5. Believe in life. When Maya died, it would have been so easy to give up. But because I chose radical generosity in a moment of crisis, hope was reborn. I met the man who received my daughter’s heart, and heard it beating in his chest. With trust and faith, anything can be overcome. Believe in something greater than yourself!
April is National Donate Life Month. Become an organ donor. Share your decision with your family and friends. Visit http://donatelife.net/understanding-donation/ for more information.
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