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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The power of a glass of water: Why simple acts of thoughtfulness matter today

Have you thought about the spirit, the heart of sustainability?  The beauty of millions flocking with grace and generosity to caring for the next generation.  Giving more than we take.  Sharing and reusing.  Building a better future for others.

Perhaps much of that is embodied in this article and in the simple act of sharing what is the world's greatest resource...water.  God bless.

If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him. — Gautama Buddha

At the beginning of a busy week, I boarded my flight from Los Angeles to Detroit and settled into an aisle seat, grateful that the client I was going to visit had agreed to pay for first-class travel. A young man in a charcoal-gray suit, with a neatly trimmed beard, hoisted his luggage into an overhead bin, folded his jacket neatly on top of his roll-on bag, and took the seat across the aisle from me. A female flight attendant took orders for drinks; I asked for water. The young man wanted nothing.

The second characteristic of a person with a caring mindset is being thoughtful. By thoughtful I mean that the person is attentive to others, considerate, unselfish, and helpful. When we place ourselves in another person’s shoes, or see things from another’s point of view, and then act for their benefit—when we are being empathetic—we are practicing what it means to be thoughtful.

As the flight attendant was serving drinks to the passengers in first class, the people flying coach began to board. Among them was an elderly, frail-looking man with wispy white hair. He took the aisle seat in the first row behind the bulkhead separating the first-class and coach sections of the plane. When the attendant was finished taking care of those of us in first class, she paused near the man. Looking up, he asked her for a glass of water. The attendant explained that drinks were not served in the coach section until after takeoff.

He persisted, repeating his request again, saying, “I’m very thirsty. Can’t you please get me a glass of water?” The attendant again refused to accommodate his request, using the same dismissive, rather official tone she had used in response to his first request. Her voice had a robotic quality to it—it was clear she did not care whether or not this older gentleman was thirsty—only that it was “against the rules” to provide a simple glass of water. I understood that she was following the airline’s policy, but was nonetheless surprised and somewhat put off that she denied the elderly man’s request. Others in the first-class section seemed perturbed and concerned as well; we looked at one another anxiously, searching for an ally, but no one got up or said anything to the attendant. Suddenly the young man across the aisle from me left his seat, went to the attendant’s galley, and returned with a glass of water. He handed the glass of water to the man and returned to his seat, ignoring the glare of the attendant, who seemed dumbfounded and annoyed by his actions. The rest of us near the old man who witnessed the incident gave the young man a round of applause. Feeling relieved for the old man, but a bit ashamed that I didn’t get him a glass of water myself, I vowed to myself that going forward, I would be as thoughtful and action-oriented as the young man was....


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