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My new friend’s superpower to spark joy in others.

“Just because I am happy and loved, doesn’t mean everyone else is. I know someone might be walking behind me who doesn’t feel happy and doesn’t feel loved. Maybe I can help them.” – Evan Ernst

While we’re thrilled our Live Inspired Podcast has been downloaded more than 5,000,000 times, it’s the stories of impact from individual listeners that most inspire our efforts. And there is something particularly special when one of the lives being impacted is a 12-year-old boy from South Dakota. Let me explain.

It doesn’t take long to figure out Evan Ernst is a remarkable kid.

His mother, Christie, had sent an email several months ago sharing that Evan insists they listen to the Live Inspired Podcast on the commute to school each Monday and Thursday morning. When the episodes end, Evan turns off the radio and discusses the main lessons with his mom. The conversation, she assured me in the email, is guided by him.

Knowing that I was headed to South Dakota for a speaking engagement and that I wanted to personally thank Evan for listening, we connected with Christie to arrange a surprise visit with our avid young listener. Christie agreed and even offered to be my taxi while in town.

Upon arriving at the Sioux Falls airport, there was a blond boy with a big smile waiting just beyond security to greet me. Evan gave me a warm hug and offered to pull my bag to his mom’s car. Once there, he offered me a bottle of water and cookies fresh from a local bakery. He wasn’t sure what my favorite cookie was, so he gave me his three favorites. (Yes, I ate all three. And yes, they were all delicious.)

Now, I’ve got four kids and spend a lot of time driving my little ones and their friends to activities. I know this stage and its hallmarks. It’s rare for kids to make eye contact, to answer questions with considerate answers or to ask thoughtful questions. But like I stated, this is not your typical 12-year-old.

During the drive, Evan asked lots of great questions.

He wanted to know if I was excited to fly without a mask. (The mandate had been lifted just days earlier.)

He asked if it was hard for me in school. (He shared that it sometimes is for him.)

And he asked if I got nervous before speeches or podcasts. (He was often nervous before speaking and was amazed to hear that I am always nervous before every speech and podcast.)

Even after pulling up to the hotel, we just kept talking. He asked questions ranging from what my kids liked to do, to if my injuries from the fire made my life harder, to if I enjoyed traveling.

The final question was if granted one superpower, which would I choose? Evan told me you can learn a lot about a person by what they choose as their power. And you can learn much more, he added, by how they choose to use it.

Power, Evan reminded me, can be used to either crush others or to help save them.

I turned the tables and asked if he ever did anything to help others.

Evan looked out the car window, contemplating his response. He then looked at me and said when he visits his grandmother in Florida, he walks the beach and stops occasionally to write the word JOY in the sand. He usually puts a few seashells around the word because he wants others to enjoy the treasures he found.

When I asked him why he did this, Evan responded, “Just because I am happy and loved, doesn’t mean everyone else is. I know someone might be walking behind me who doesn’t feel happy and doesn’t feel loved. Maybe I can help them.”

Christie sent me several pictures from our time together in Sioux Falls. She also included some pics of her son on the beach with his grandmother. You see joy in both of their faces. And I can only imagine the gift of joy shared with those who walk behind them.

My friends, there are so many examples of people using their powers for evil and personal gain.

And then we have this example of an inquisitive boy from South Dakota. The model of someone who strives to make a difference—even if he’s not around to see it. An example of a kid who not only witnesses many around him who feel discouraged, isolated, exhausted or angry, but desires to use his superpower of love to make a difference.

What Evan knows, and what we would be wise to grasp, is that the little things we do for one another, aren’t so little. The words we speak to others, matter profoundly. And the manner in which we choose to lead our lives, shapes the world in which we live.

Let’s determine to be more like Evan and act like it.

This is your day. Live Inspired.

14 replies on “More Than Words”

Kindness.. This divided world is full of unkindness & judgement. Our city had a sign campaign in yards “KINDNESS MATTERS” .

I have previously said I’d like Vampiric powers so I could stop the illness and injuries in my own life and for others, but I’d really like the ability to make others more compassionate. Too often there are people who always think of themselves first or how an action will benefit him/herself before deciding whether whether to take action. I get very frustrated with people who consistently will choose something to benefit her/his self at the detriment of others when there is a way to accomplish the same goal while no one need be injured physically or mentally. There is a long story about how I decided to live my life in this fashion, but for the sake of brevity I’ll just say I realized quite a while ago that someone does not always have to lose for me to win.

Communicating with the loved ones who’ve passed on before us, to glean from their wisdom just a little longer, to experience their example just a little more, to feel their heartbeat just a little stronger, up close and personal. It’s a selfish superpower, I know, but I’d use it for good, I promise.

Super intelligence. I’d use my super power to help cure or treat diseases like cancer, severe arthritis, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, MS and more. Good people suffer from these diseases; yet many of them teach us how to live as our better selves. I’d love to be able to give back to them, by helping others beat those nasty ailments.

Elastigirl (Aka Mrs. Incredible) If you are not familiar with her, she is the mother in Pixar’s movie, The Incredibles. Her superpower is elasticity. She can stretch into many shapes and forms, allowing herself to be durable and nimble. How I wish I could twist my middle age-body, as such. My son, now in his later 20s, cut and pasted a picture of Mrs. Incredible on a piece of paper and gave it to me. In his few words, he informed me that I was her. I thanked him and never thought about it again, until now. John, I suppose superpowers can be experienced through the tasks of our everyday lives. Mrs. Incredible is a mom who demonstrates the many ways many mothers stretch their schedules and their time so their children can make it to practices, feel better from an illness, invite friends over, study for the big exam, find the comfort in a dorm room, rest when life is overwhelming and much more. Up, up and away!

Mine would be time travel. I would love to meet great grandparents or distant relatives I wouldn’t get to meet, or see my parents and grandparents as crazy teenagers. And I have always loved historical tv shows that take me back. It would be awesome to really experience those times.

Listening. Listen the those who yearn to be heard, those that need to be heard, those who have so much to express but don’t have anyone that will listen. Let no righteous voice go unheard.

I was going to write: to be more patient. Then I thought I’d really like to be able to feel the oneness with everyone. To not walk around with a “me” and “them” perspective. Which would help me be more patient. Both may be admirable but to dream higher, at this time in world events, the biggest superpower may be to bring about world peace. Achievable only if we are a)more patient and b) do not see ourselves as separate from each other.

Teleporting would be my superpower.
I like to travel but I want more time to enjoy the people I am with and experience the places I go.

Flying. I often dream I can fly. It’s so peaceful and silent above the chaos of the earth and you can get places much quicker. 😊

To heal depression because three family memvers committed suicide and many more strugglecwith this disease. Maybe my real superpower should be making people compassionate toward those who suffer from depression. Can I have two?😊

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Live Inspired Together is a community of friends changing the world together, starting with their own. In a world that often focuses on negativity, John O’Leary - Live Inspired shares the other side of the story through his member-supported channels (essays, Live Inspired Podcast, video, webcasts, social platforms) to connect our community and share inspiration and actions to live it. Support now.