This week I thought I would break from the usual and post something more personal. A few days ago I was married. The weekend was perfect to me. I was surrounded by my beloved family, many close friends, and holding my new husbands’ hand. Even the weather was glorious and all of this seemed to heighten the senses. The food and wine tasted lovely, the flowers so fragrant, and the music so beautiful. All of this caused me to think deeply about the impact of our relationships, the small daily gestures of love, and how they affect our mental and physical health from our early childhood. As we move about our busy lives each day, it is very easy to forget to stop and be fully present in the moment.
We zip from one errand to the next, always seeming to be short of time. Often, we fail to make time for very essential interactions with the people around us. And by this I do not just mean our family and friends, but also the people who we interact with every day. Think about the woman behind the cash register at the market, the barber, the taxi driver or the security guard. Or perhaps it is the nurse who holds your child’s hand and reassures them when they are frightened. Each of these people likely also has children. And each of these people can be enriched and empowered by small gestures of warmth, love and kindness that cost us nothing, but matter so much. How often are we fully mindful in the moment, and how often do we extend these little acts of kindness that matter so much? Now think about your childhood for a moment. What are the things you remember most? The loving memories you will carry with you until your final days? Perhaps it was the tiny kisses Mom and Dad gave you at bedtime. Or the way they took you to school and stayed by your side when you were sick or sad. No loving gesture was too small or too insignificant. It all mattered. And those of us who were fortunate enough to grow up inside loving, nurturing and consistent relationships are so much more likely to enjoy mentally and physically healthy lives; more protected from depression and substance abuse and the early onset of so many diseases.
My wedding ceremony and the presence of so many people who shaped my life in so many ways as a child, causes me to remember these simple things, and to work to try harder in my everyday life to pass on these gifts to those around me- especially to my patients. So then, I will close with a simple but very important request. Take a moment each day to breath deeply, think fully and act compassionately. No matter how small the gesture; a little kiss, a hand tightly held, a long hug, a sincere compliment or a word of gentle encouragement, it all matters greatly, and especially to our children.