It was Summer’s birthday request. She asked her husband for an outdoor activity and dinner in Bend, which meant a drive over an entire mountain range.
Dan and I borrowed a stack of inner tubes that were really made for water but worked well on the gentle slope … that is, until two people got on one inner tube and tried to master the slick, crusty snow, and they may or may not have ruptured the tube in two places, which immediately deflated.
(Not naming any names, but they were the two old people on the hill who think they’re still youngsters).
Not sure who was having more fun—the snow gliders or the birthday girl shooting video.
But it was her request. For her birthday, she wanted to get out of the house she’s occupied 24/7—with a few breaks here and there—since COVID showed up. For her birthday, she wanted the kids to spend time with their grandparents. For her birthday, she wanted her family to have a memorable outdoor experience.
All this fun and shenanigans was followed by dinner at a favorite food truck lot. Our party of 10 ordered Thai food, American burgers and fries, and the fabulous pierogis with a variety of fillings.
Food never tasted better as we sat in the fading sun over much laughter and conversation.
Except the birthday girl’s food arrived last. Because she’s also the mom. And she was taking care of her brood first. We had all pretty much finished eating by the time her buzzer indicated her dinner was ready.
There’s a quote that makes sense to the world’s way of thinking: “That’s the problem with putting others first; you’ve taught them you come second.”
But for her birthday this year, my daughter embodied one of my favorite verses from a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the ancient church in Philippi:
Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. – Philippians 2:4
And science proves this to be a rewarding way to live.
An online article, entitled “5 Psychological Benefits of Putting the Needs of Others Before Your Own,” indicated that compassion—or caring for the welfare of others—is the key to finding happiness.
Serving others “stimulates the brain’s pleasure pathways.” According to the article, compassion makes us better people and helps us build stronger social connections. “Other research has even found volunteering to lower the risk of dementia.”
Practicing compassion is also good for our physical health.
From a Psychology Today piece, titled “Compassion’s Surprising Benefits for Physical and Psychological Health,” a brain-imaging study indicated that the pleasure centers in the brain were stimulated by the act of giving:
The reason a compassionate lifestyle leads to greater psychological well-being may be explained by the fact that the act of giving appears to be as pleasurable, if not more so, as the act of receiving.
One of the prayers I prayed for my daughter was that she would find joy in making her birthday special for all the people around her.
Pretty sure this is exactly how the day turned out.