I was just starting to admire it when the driver’s door opened. Not wishing to scare the driver, I said loudly, “This is one great looking car.”
The owner got out, smiled at me and we chatted about the pros and cons of sports cars for a few minutes before going our separate ways.
As I got into my car, I saw another woman walking a tiny puppy and had to fight the urge to get back out and visit with the owner, hopefully getting a sniff of puppy breath in the bargain.
It occurred to me right then I spend a lot of time looking around at the details of my life – and reaping the rewards of satisfying my curiosity.
It’s one reason I’m a good feature writer. I love details.
As someone with a chronic illness, I find seeking out details, talking to strangers or investigating things that interest me keeps my mind off all the bad things that seem to stack up.
Trying to notice everything also gives me the chance to give back from time to time.
I may never be the big hero who saves lives or raises large amounts of money for charitable causes, but I can open doors for people as beaten up as I am, or pick up the tab for someone eating alone, leaving before they know.
I enjoy doing nice things for people, even something as small as telling someone you like their T-shirt, or that the color of a dress suits the wearer. I’ve found most people hear so little kindness daily that at first they are surprised, then pleased. The smile makes it worth it.
I was working at a Chamber of Commerce when one of those “how to talk to people and increase your sales” programs was being held. The class needed one more student, and even though I didn’t need the class, I was asked to participate.
After the second week, my talks were always last because I have never been afraid of public speaking and so many people are. Others probably benefitted from this course more than I did, but it did succeed impressing one thing upon my young mind.
It’s easier to be kind, and the payoff can surprise you.
I’ve always liked the idea of “paying it forward.” It costs nothing to be nice to the harried grocery clerk, the bodiless voice in the drive through of your favorite fast food stop, or especially to a harried teacher or nurse, or (more and more often as winter starts playing with the weather) the stressed out airline employee.
Make eye contact (if possible), smile and tell them to slow down a minute, that they didn’t cause the problem making everyone snippy and that you personally appreciate anything they can do for you. By giving them a few moments to pull themselves together with someone who seems to understand, you’re pretty much letting them reboot and start again with you as their first customer.
Leave them with a smile and thanks for their help and valuable time. If they have, tell them they did a good job.
You may have just made someone’s day, cheered them up a little so their time goes a bit faster.
If they ever see you again, they might remember you and go out of their way to make sure your day goes better. It has happened to me.
If someone on your daily walks grows lovely flowers, tell the gardener how much you enjoy seeing them daily. A fellow Creaky Joint writer is making friends with a dog on her walks to and from work. She is delighted and I’m sure the dog is enjoying a new friend.
Let other people think you’re a bit daft if they must. The good you do both yourself and others will help you fight your disease at least mentally, and many times, isn’t that half the battle?