Burning Down the House

There's a parable about marriage - to paraphrase from memory: a wife is working hard around the house while her husband is in the living room reading the paper. As she races to clean, she notices the pot is boiling over, and the oven timer has gone off. She manages to get to it all, and over dinner she asks her husband: "How much do you love me?" and the husband says: "Very much." The wife presses: "What would you do if I was trapped inside a burning house?" and the husband says: "I love you so much dear, I'd rush in to save you." And she replies: "The house may never burn dear. If you wait for the big opportunities to show your love for me, they may never come. If you love me, help me with the little things."

I think this parable extends beyond marriages - to friendships, but also our professional lives as well.

How often do we wait until things escalate? How often do we wait until someone is really struggling before offering to help? Imagine if we sat back and watched a small flame growing and thoughts: "It's not big enough yet for me to get involved..." or, worse, "It's small - someone else can get to it..."

Small acts of kindness have much bigger and more profound impact than we give them credit. This was shown to be the case in a recent study out of UT Austin - the remarkable thing is that when we help someone else, we don't see it as anything special. Small acts of kindness mean the world to the recipients - but as the helper, we trivialize the impact.

Maybe because the house isn't burning.


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