Have you ever been out doing your thing….running errands, grocery shopping, picking up the kids from school, going to a PTO meeting, hitting up the gym for a sweat session…whatever your daily life entails…..and someone stopped you to compliment you on something?
For example, you’re in line at the grocery store and the woman behind you taps you on the shoulder to tell you how much she loves the boots your wearing. Or maybe you are checking out from an appointment at the doctor’s office and the receptionist tells you that you have the most beautiful eyes? Or even better…for those mama’s out there…perhaps you’re making your way through Target with 2 toddlers in hand trying to knock out some errands and a woman stops to tell you how beautiful and well behaved your kids are?
Or it could be the opposite….you have one toddler screaming her head off because she dropped the applesauce you gave her all over the floor and the other one just slipped it and fell down in it….and what looks to be a fellow mama with a look of complete understanding and “I’ve been there girl” look on her face, smiles….hands you some tissue… and tells you that “It happens to us all!”
It’s funny how even the simplest things can impact your day so much. A simple smile from a stranger as you pass them on the sidewalk…a compliment from the checkout woman…a door being held open for you…a fellow driver letting you cut in front of them at the last second before you miss your exit and NOT flipping you off….
But the opposite is true too….You could be that same mom in Target with the two crazy toddlers and get the look from the old woman and the under the breath comment of “I have never seen such poor behavior” Or just the sideways stares and looks….ugh those are the worst!!! I mean…does anyone think that that poor mom was thinking as she walked into the store “Gosh I hope the kids go crazy and start screaming while we are in here and I’ll just completely ignore it??” NO!! She is doing the best she can. If you have kids, then you know that that stuff just happens. Can’t plan for it…can’t help it…just have to deal with it the best you can. If you don’t have kids, then you don’t even have a clue what it’s like to even raise another human so you don’t get an opinion. So why don’t we just cut each other some slack.
Sometimes I think we all forget how impactful we can be on each other….friend or stranger. Sometimes I get so caught up in my own world and what I have going on that I forget to think about other people and what they might be going through. What kind of day they might have had. When I’m caught up in my own chaos, I may be driving down the road and someone cuts me off on the freeway to make an exit. Many times I’ll get so angry in the car…yelling at the person like they can hear me…assuming that they are just a total jerk who wasn’t paying any attention or was busy on their cell phone. BUT what if it’s a mom who just got a call from the school that her son fell on the playground and got a bad cut that needs stiches and she is frantically trying to get to the emergency room? You would cut someone off in that scenario too wouldn’t you? And you wouldn’t be doing it out of a bad place because you couldn’t concern yourself with those around you or because you weren’t paying attention, but instead from a place of sheer panic and fear and the need to get to your baby and wrap your arms around him to let him know that mama is here.
Or when your checking out at the grocery store and you pleasantly say hello to the cashier and smile and she barely even acknowledges your existence. No smile. No eye contact. Doesn’t actually even utter a word to you. This exact scenario happened to me the other day. I walked up, starting loading my groceries onto the conveyor belt, and greeted the cashier with a smile and a hello. Annnnndddd nothing. I was a little puzzled. Then I handed her over my shoppers card to scan and when she handed it back, I said “thanks, how are you today?” Nothing. Now I’m just pissed. Thinking in my head…”how can you be so rude? You’re in customer service. You should be happy and smiling and ready to chat to anyone that walks up here?!” I remember walking out with my groceries so irritated and bothered by the interaction. Like it ruined my whole mood. Then as I was getting into the car I stopped and thought about it some more. Thought about how ridiculous it was that I was now in a bad mood because someone didn’t treat me the way I thought they should have.
Who cares that she is in customer service….that doesn’t change the fact that she may just be having a really bad day. Have you ever had a really bad day? She may have just gotten a phone call that morning that a loved one was sick. Or just found out that her husband was leaving her. Or she may be struggling to make ends meet and is distracted trying to figure out where to get money for rent. Who am I to decide that she doesn’t have the right to not be bubbly and pleasant and want to talk me? She still got her job done. I was in and out of the line quickly with my groceries and on with my day so why was I so bothered by it?
That’s an example of how much our interactions with each other….positive or negative… can impact us. But if we just stop for a minute, shift the focus off of ourselves and onto someone else, you would be amazed at what could change. As I pulled out of the store parking lot that day, I didn’t feel angry anymore. I didn’t feel irritated or entitled to a pleasant experience. I felt compassion. I felt sympathy. Now, sure….she could have just had a poor attitude for no reason and there wasn’t anything that happened that contributed to it. But I like to focus on the fact that we just don’t know what’s going on with other people….and we should never assume anything. We should just be kind. Be understanding. Be loving.
And it’s so much more fun that way. You choose what kind of mentality and attitude you’re going to have each day that you wake up. When I make it a conscious effort to tell myself that….to remind myself that the world doesn’t revolve around me and my family and my problems but that there are millions of other people out there around me, many of who will cross my path that day, and that my smile or kind words might impact them in a positive way, then it just changes my entire outlook for the day. It brings me patience, and peace, and happiness.
Do unto others as you want done unto you. That’s what God tells us to do. We are called to be a reflection of his love at all times….not just when we feel like it. I can tell a difference in my day when I don’t remind myself of that. When I don’t consciously remind myself that I am a reflection of him and his love and that I need to show that to each and every person that I come across that day. When I do focus on that, it’s so much easier. If I can make a positive impact on someone’s day, then that’s a great feeling. If I can say or do something that helps them….makes them forget their problems for even a minute…helps them to remember that people can be good and kind…or just reaffirms the good day they are already having…then that’s a win. That’s success in my book. It sure is a lot more fun then letting the little things get you all worked up and irritated.
So my challenge for you….remember the feeling that you get when you get a random compliment from a stranger. Big or small. Or when someone shows you compassion in a tough situation. Think about how it makes you feel. How it can completely turn your day around. Think about when you see someone on an airplane that is struggling to get their bag into the overhead bin and someone rushes over to help them with a smile on their face. Doesn’t that just make you happy to see people being kind to one another?
Or think about when you were having the absolute worst day….running late for work, spilled coffee on your shirt, got in a fight with your spouse before you left for the day…got a call from the school about your child’s bad behavior in class….AGAIN….and then out of the blue a friend calls you to tell you she was just thinking about you and wanted you to know how important you are to her. That she loves you and is so happy that you are in her life. Now, she tells you that in a voicemail because you’re day was going so poorly that when you saw the phone ring you couldn’t even muster up the energy to answer it and talk to her….but when you hear the voicemail it brings tears to your eyes. Makes all the bad…even if just for a few minutes…wash away for the day. Makes you feel good.
You never know what someone else is going through so make it a point each day to be intentionally kind. I like to focus on making sure that I do at least 1 meaningful and thoughtful thing for someone each day. Small things. Intentionally find a stranger somewhere in my day to compliment is my favorite thing….love your boots, your kids are adorable, I need that bag in my life…whatever. Just say something kind (but also genuine…don’t just say it to say it), it feels great I promise! And don’t just save this for strangers either…of course that can be so fun, but remember those closest to you too. Sometimes we take for granted the people closet to us, but they need words of encouragement too.
Let’s all be a little kinder each day…not be so self-centered and remember that we all have our own battles and challenges in life that we are facing, and if we all just work to be a little kinder, how much better would the world around us be?
Kindness breeds kindness. 💕 💕 💕