Thursday, March 1, 2012

An Experiment

It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice.

Oh, how my family groans when I say this.  I don't care, though.  I say it all the time because I think it bears repeating.  It's also not exactly reinforced by our media today, with divorces, fights and lawsuits making the news day in and day out. 

So I repeat myself, smiling. 

But yesterday, my littlest was home sick.  I was cooking in the kitchen and flicked on the Today show.  There was a really nice little feature about a mailman who went about his daily tasks, cheerfully and with such a sincerely nice and dynamic attitude that I stopped to watch for a minute. They interviewed co-workers as well as those to whom he delivered the mail, and everyone said the same thing:  that this one man brightened up their day every time they talked to him.

I love people like that.  People who have a zest for living an authentic life -- people who focus on being genuinely interested in the person with whom they are interacting in that very moment.  People who enjoy what they are doing, right then, and have a smile and an attitude so happy it's contagious.  How refreshing from the everyday we are getting accustomed to -- where it's perfectly fine to listen half-heartedly to a conversation while googling at the same time.  Where it's fine to pick at dinner while texting surreptiously under the table. 

So, today, I had a bunch of errands to do.  I decided I was going to pretend I was that mailman today and look people in the eye, thank them and share a nice little conversation.  Now, I am normally a pretty cheerful person, but I was going to kick it up a bit.  It was a little experiment.

I had  to go to the post office.  Perfect!  Talk about karma.  There was a fairly long line.  When I finally got to the post office lady, I gave her a big smile and said, "Hey, how are you?" before I asked for my stamps.

It worked!  She grinned back and said, "I'm feeling much better, thank you."  With that, while she was getting my stamps, she relayed she had been out two days sick.  I told her my daughter was the same way but I was glad they were both better.  Then she started humming a song as she counted out my change. 

"I was singing that same song in my head!" I told her -- turns out we had been listening to the same radio station, and we laughed.

Now, you would think the others on line would have been annoyed by our chatter, right?  Well, an older lady next to me was leaving, but before she did, she stopped at our counter, winked and said "Keep singing those songs, ladies." 

As I left, the postal worker waved good-bye and I noticed the older lady getting into her car.  She waved goodbye at me and I got into my car, too.  I was in such a good mood on the way home.  It is so heart-warming to share just a little bit of unexpected kindness, and it's so easy.

I hope I made the man from the Today show proud.  I hope I take this day and make it a habit.  I think the world would be a better place if we all tried this experiment.  I hope you will think about it and try it, too.   
How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world. 
 -- W. Shakespeare