Wednesday, November 28, 2007

5 Simple Things that Make a Life of Joy

1. Cultivate Kindness. Tell the tired Wal Mart cashier how much you appreciate her hard work. She may be the slowest one in the store today, but a kind word is a great motivator. Yes you've been in line forever, and everyone around you is grumpy and impatient. Don't get caught up in the negativity. Make it your challenge to help them put things in perspective. Be pleasant. Be patient. Smile and start some pleasant small talk. After all, isn't your presence in the store a contributing factor to the crowds and long lines? Cheerfulness and kindness will make the wait seem much shorter than complaining and unpleasantness.

2. Take Responsibility. If you drop something, pick it up. If you make a mess in the microwave, clean it up. Go a step further. If you see a small task that needs to be done, be a grownup and do it. Even if its not your mess in the company microwave. I'm not saying we should all be martyrs, but if more people would actually have a mature attitude about doing the little things, then there would be fewer 'big' things that need to be done.

3. Old Fashioned Manners. The reason for them is simple... it makes living shoulder to shoulder and cheek to cheek bearable for us all. When our day to day encounters are pleasant and easy, anxiety, aggression, and stress levels are magically reduced. Polite driving keeps traffic moving smoothly. Holding doors keeps foot traffic moving smoothly. Teach your adolescents and teens to stand so that the elderly and infirm can sit. It builds character! Remember that rudeness is an indictment of the person who practices it, not the recipient.

4. Talk About What's Important. Too many children today are growing up in a 'values vacuum.' How many of us discuss the importance of honesty, integrity, and compassion. We run them from activity to activity so that they will be well-rounded, well-adjusted individuals, but forget to teach them that 'teamwork' goes beyond the sports arena. We cultivate their educations, their self-esteem, and even encourage them to be generous to charities and the needy. But we also need to remind ourselves and them daily that we are all responsible for making our day to day encounters with friends, family, co-workers, salespeople, and co-commuters as pleasant and enjoyable as they can.

5. Remind Yourself That You are NOT More Important Than Everyone Else. In my mind, this is the number one cause of all unpleasant interactions between people. We all have deadlines and demands on our time, and we are all coping as best we can. That does not give us a right to insist that our issues take priority over another. When we allow negative attitudes and actions to determine our behaviour, we only add to our own stress and everyone elses'. It becomes a vicious circle of stress, anxiety, and aggression. Break the cycle by forcing yourself to think of the positive effect of a smile and kind word versus impatience and rudeness.


Angela Tomczak said...

Well said! I just love the way you give simple examples that really drive the point home!

Alta said...

Angela passed your link on to me. I am so glad that someone else in the world agrees with us on the Civilized Behaviour. Just another reason that we homeschool our boys.