I'm really not one to complain, but something has become painfully apparent to me over the past few weeks. It actually has been obvious for the past few years but it's become moreso lately. It has nothing to do with what I do every day nor the issues that capture my time and attention. It has to do with people and their behavior. So with the new year approaching and everyone fixated on resolutions and new beginnings, I wanted to offer a few insights that perhaps could become part of the resolutions of others at this time of year. They will be part of mine...
- Smile. Just a little. Even when you don't feel like it. Even when the other person does not expect or even deserve it. It's disarming plus makes you feel like a "mensch".
- Be kind. To others. At times and places when it's least expected. I've had several people over the past 10 days stop and tell me, "You're a really nice person" when I did nothing more than allow an elder to walk through a door before me or nod to allow someone to step ahead of me in the deli line. That elder, by the way, commented that she's never seen so many "nasty people" in her life. I hope she only meant *out and about* but perhaps she meant everyone.
- Say thanks. For things like acknowledging with a simple wave the person who allowed you to merge onto the highway ahead of them or for the cashier who, without asking, double-bagged a fragile item.
- Notice things. Like the person who forgot to close the trunk of their car (and yes, I did close it and notified the customer service desk as well) or the child who dropped a toy while their parent was frantically strolling them out of a crowded store. Just a few days ago, I witnessed a teenager who was sitting with a few friends stand, walk over, and pick up a piece of newspaper that fell from the hand of a woman who was wheelchair bound. And yes, I told him that he is the kind of teenager every parent wishes for.
- Slow down. That mocha-choca latte won't suddenly turn cold if you wait to grab it until after you put your change away and are able to balance your laptop, smartphone, briefcase, keys, biscotti, and drink in your two hands.
- Stop complaining. Everyone is busy, harried, stretched, and juggling. And some are busy-plus with young children, aging parents, financial worries, health concerns, and a host of other things on their minds. Yes, just like you perhaps.
- Be gracious. If someone defers to you in any small way, recognize it vs. expect it. Entitlement looks tacky and really makes others shake their heads in disbelief.
- Think. If you don't like the way someone is treating you, consider that perhaps things are not going swimmingly for them and that they are barely hanging on themselves. It's easier to react but the outcomes are often less fruitful.
- Ask. Rather than assuming something, ask. You'll be amazed sometimes at the answers.
- Be grateful. If you have warm clothes on your back, a hot meal to eat, a comfortable bed to sleep in, a book or a CD to bring you joy, and at least one person whose presence in your life makes you feel grateful, it's a good thing indeed.
Somewhere along the way, our lives have become so complicated that we have forgotten how we were raised -- to be decent and caring people willing and able to understand that others are carrying burdens just as we may be. So at this time of holiday merriment, family gatherings, and gift-giving, my wish for everyone is for a kinder, more humane 2012. Maybe it won't be an easier year and maybe the burdens will still be as heavy but maybe, just maybe, a simple smile or kind gesture will make one moment lighter for you and another.
Happy Holidays to all.