The True Meaning of Success (Wisdom from My Grandpa)

“To laugh often, and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better… To know even one other life has breathed easier because you lived.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Losing my grandma was one of the biggest Big D’s in my life, and that of my whole family. She was an incredibly selfless person, full of cuddles and laughter and endless love and positivity. I dedicate this project to her, because she was the one to instill the value of kindness within me. After she died I worried a lot about how my grandpa would cope. In stark contrast to my grandma, he has never been very good at expressing his emotions or connecting with others. He much prefers to talk about facts and numbers and dates. But since she died something very interesting has happened – my withdrawn grandpa has been slowly been coming out of his shell, emerging just a little bit softer and warmer and more expressive. Suddenly he has started to make an effort to reach out and connect, much to everyone’s surprise.

Tonight at a family dinner he told me he wanted to share something with me, and then read out the Emerson quote above. He said it made him think of me because thats what I was trying to do: “to make other people breathe a little easier, and that’s really what matters in the end.” I felt goose bumps rise up on my skin. I had no idea that he even knew about my kindness project, let alone that he would understand so completely the very heart of it. His thoughtfulness was that much more beautiful and profound because it was so utterly unexpected. It made me realise that perhaps my grandma and grandpa weren’t so different after all. That underneath we all just want to breathe easier and believe that we helped someone else to do the same.