It’s rare to know how much someone else is hurting…
Even if you’re standing next to them…
(Regardless – even if you’re their spouse, parent, sibling, best friend, significant other, and especially if they’re a stranger.)
That person could be feeling totally broken, but we couldn’t realize.
Make kindness a habit. Always. No matter the provocation.
A few years ago I had a heart-breaking experience with a grouchy security guard at a library in Florida. We had been traveling fulltime for a while and regularly used the WiFi at the public libraries to work during the day. This was the only library, over the space of two years, that had a “be silent” policy and a guard to back it up.
He prowled the stacks of books seeking those talking out loud or on their mobile cell phone to “shush” them with a scowl and to point to the outside door. (Yes, he found me twice – I was “that” woman.) It both humiliated me and made me grumpy too, even though I was clearly in the wrong.
At the end of the day, I sat outside on a bench waiting for Rob to pick me up. (The truck was parked a fair ways away.) I saw the grumpy guard on another bench. It was so tempting to ignore him. And yet…
Be Kind. Always. To yourself and others.
(Do you ever get those inner promptings? I do. And I’ve learned not to ignore them.)
So I got up and walked over to the grumpy guard’s bench and sat beside him. I started the conversation about the weather. (You’ll find that’s often the opening line with a Canadian… I don’t know why.) Since it was Florida in the winter, the sun was shining and warm, it was a good start. Anyway. He began to share.
He shared his whole life story with me – I guess I appeared to be a friendly ear.
He hadn’t had an easy life. And the latest blow was his cancer diagnosis.
The grumpy guard was scheduled for treatment the next week and he was afraid. He wasn’t on speaking terms with his siblings and It didn’t seem like he had a support system around him. But for those few moments, I was privileged to listen and put a hand on his arm to convey that someone cared.
He told me he believed in God, so I assured him that I would pray for him. By the time Rob pulled up in the truck I had gotten a few smiles out of that grumpy guard. I hope, with all my heart, that my kindness made a difference. Even if it was for only a few moments.
There was no way I would have known his story. And his fear, hurt, loneliness, and isolation. I’m chagrined that I just saw an old man who “shushed” me. At least at first. However, I’m not going to beat myself up – I’ve learned from that experience. Hopefully, I won’t make the same mistake again.
Looking on the bright side – can you do that? All the time?
If you’re anything like me, it takes real effort to continue to look on the bright side – regardless. But even though it takes effort, (and sometimes huge effort), it never hurts me in the long run. In fact, it makes my life better, and all those around me feel it.
Once I’ve found the “bright side”, and go with it, then other aspects where negativity could creep in seem easier to manage.
Is it simple to look for the positive in life? Not always.
Looking on the bright side even when it’s hard.
Here are some ways to encourage yourself to focus on what’s good in a circumstance:
Express your thankfulness in a concrete way: words, or actions.
Take time to ponder. We allow the rush of life to overwhelm us and by default the place we end up is negative. Use a timeout to process what’s going on. Prayer always helps me.
Make a pro and con list on paper. (or your computer) Seeing the issues in black and white will often clarify those nebulous clouds of gloom and doom. Talk it through with a trusted friend. A person who loves you can see situations differently. Neither of you is right or wrong. Sometimes it’s good to have a discussion to see another’s view.
Get out of your own way. In the Lead Like Jesus Encounter, there’s a part called “Ego’s Annonymous”. It’s designed to help the participants recognize we all struggle every day with pride and fear – it’s an addiction. As a Christian, I see EGO as “edging God out”. Most times, at least for me, when I can’t find the bright side that’s at the root.
How about you?
What techniques do you use to successfully find your positive place?
PositiveThanksLiving is about being strategically optimistic – not just pie-in-the-sky everything is perfect. Living as an optimistic and thankful person takes work – but it’s worth it!
A few ways to look on the bright side – even when it’s hard. Be strategically optimistic.
Learn to laugh at yourself – it’s a sign of maturity!
I found a fun quote from Ethel Barrymore, a great-great aunt of Drew Barrymore. She was an actor from 1895 to 1957 and part of a family who made their life on the stage. She said,
“You grow up the day you have your first real laugh at yourself.”
~ Ethel Barrymore
When did you first learn to laugh at yourself?
I’m guessing that learning to laugh at yourself isn’t a one-time event. I think we grow into the ability.
Eventually, we all learn that nobody is really looking at us, even if we think they are. And that we’re not all that important, and the actions we take (on the whole) may or may not be wise and won’t usually make everyone happy or unhappy.
None of us are that important or famous that we shouldn’t be able to see our faults or mistakes and laugh along with others. No one is perfect. Not even us!
What makes you most often laugh about yourself?
I laugh at my own “boring-ness”. I find it easy to put children to sleep (especially the grandboy) because I’m not very exciting. And I laugh when people notice how often I say, “I’m sorry”. It’s a Canadian thing.
Have you ever seen Ethel Barrymore? Here’s a compilation of some of her stage/movie roles – she began acting at 14 after her mother died of tuberculosis and her career spanned 60 years. Her parents were actors, and her brothers were John and Lionel Barrymore. Today her family is represented by Drew Barrymore.
Below you can watch a video with Ethel Barrymore in 1952 on “What’s My Line?” a TV show that had guests guessing the identity and profession of individuals. I cued the video to begin when she came on the episode at minute 16:45, but you might find it fun to watch the whole episode! If you can’t see the YouTube video below, click HERE to go directly to YouTube.