Mornings around my house are usually hectic to say the least. With two little kids and a wife that needs to leave for work early, efficiency is the name of the game. Throw today’s snow storm into the mix and you have a pretty busy start to the day. To be honest I don’t mind. I wake up, get ready, dress kids, help feed everyone, get the cars warmed up while I shovel the driveway then drop my oldest off at school and I take my youngest to daycare. No sweat… Well, sometimes I sweat but that’s okay.
While leaving daycare this morning I see a fellow dad carrying a small child. The sidewalks hadn’t been shoveled yet so I moved aside so he could pass easily along the little trail of footprints that the earlier parents forged. I smile a hello and in response I get a “I can’t believe how lazy these people are! They can’t even clean a sidewalk.” barked at me as he walks by. No “thank you”, no “good morning”. Just a grumpy complaint. I bite my tongue on a smart-ass response and get in my car.
On my way to work I began to dwell on his comment. At first I regretted not saying something snide but as time went by I realized that I started the day in such a great mood – I was cheerful and smiling. Despite it being the first day of work after a long weekend I was in great spirits. So why should one simple comment from someone having a miserable morning change all that?
Then I remembered a video a friend shared on Facebook a while back that showed how a single act of kindness can become infectious and spread from person to person. I personally have yet to help an old lady across a street (and may have kept creepy-guy’s wallet) but the video does a good job depicting the general idea of passing-on good deeds.
What I realized was that the same was true with the opposite. As in the case of our grumpy cuss, a single action can turn someone’s mood right around and make them just as ornery. Now I’m not about to go all bubble-gum and snowflakes on you and say how you should go out and hug people (and puppies) but I certainly think that there’s something to be learned here.
The world is full of malcontents and perhaps some of them deserve a good smacking, but the truth is that none of that helps. Two wrongs don’t make a right and retaliating one comment with another will only make matters worse. What would however make a difference is if we all watched our real-life social aura and tried to do two things…
First off, the things we say and do all have an effect on the people around us. Holding a door open, helping someone, sharing a smile or simply thinking before we speak really does get noticed. Sometimes it may feel like no one is watching but the truth is that almost always someone is. Don’t be afraid to dish it out. Throw out those pats on the back and smiles as if they were free.
Secondly, being polite and happy isn’t enough because the first grouch you meet can set all your goodwill-towards-man into something less than civil. What we need to do is learn to deal with the curmudgeons of the world without letting their surly demeanor get to us. We have to learn how to ignore the people who cut us off while we drive, who honk for no reason, who complain, who push, who whine and gripe. As satisfying as a rubber mallet may sound at times, it’s never really the answer; at least not in the long run. The way to make the world a better place is by ignoring the negative, pushing it from our minds and moving on without being fazed.
I’m not saying that it’s easy. It took me half a day and a good blog vent to get buddy out of my mind but that didn’t stop me from shoveling the walkway at work first thing this morning so the people who came in after me didn’t have to wade through thick snow. If I can do it I’m certain that you can too.
So get out there, smile at someone, hug a puppy and don’t let the world get to you. Most importantly, make a blogger’s day by leaving some comments.