Now that the holidays are upon us, it’s a really good time to start thinking about making good manners and consideration for others a habit so that when the holidays are over, we will be fostering a better environment in the world around us without thinking much about it.
Wait…do you think you don’t have any issues with kindness? It’s possible that you don’t, of course, but sometimes–because most of us are so busy all the time–we become very emotionally impulsive and less thoughtful without even realizing it. I performed a little experiment last night and I challenge you to do something similar.
I had to stop at the grocery store as my final errand of the afternoon, and as I was driving through the parking lot the right way, a woman came screeching across the spaces in a perpendicular-to-me direction. As I started to exhibit my typical road rage-y behavior, I stopped and took a moment to breathe.
When I found the parking space I wanted, I turned the car into it, and noticed that the person in the car next to the spot I had chosen had the door wide open and was climbing out of the car. I stopped my car and instead of tapping my fingers on the steering wheel, I waited ever so patiently.
As I walked to the door of the store, a woman who was on her way out but wasn’t watching where she was going nearly ran into me. Usually when that happens I just ignore the other person and keep moving: most times the person who does the “nearly running into” doesn’t say a word. This time I smiled and said, as if it were my fault, “Oh! Excuse me!” She replied, “I’m sorry about that…excuse ME!” She returned my smile and went on her way.
The older gentleman who was posted by the door welcomed me to the store and I returned his gaze and smile, saying “Thanks! How are ya?”
I made light conversation with the cashier, and when my transaction was done I thanked her and wished her a good weekend.
These things all seem so tiny, so insignificant, but they aren’t, really. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a jerk to strangers during every interaction, but I could use some work on occasion. Last night at the grocery store, it felt good (a little weird, too!) to really put an effort into being kind to others. Our world could use more of that.
And guess what? It starts with just one person. Join me, won’t you?
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