Before I left home to run errands a few days before Christmas, I prepared myself mentally for traffic and long lines and general chaos. (I’ve finally matured enough to know that my general sense of impatience does not serve well at this time of year!) And as I traveled among the grocery store and post office and bookstore, I asked the clerks, “Are you doing alright? Are customers being nice to you? I hope they’re being kind.”
The reports were mostly positive — “Oh, yeah, everyone is pretty cheerful.” “I think they’re saving their bad behavior for their in-laws.” In one case, I heard about two customers who had been notably awful to the person serving them. She told me that at the end of the first customer’s transaction, during which the customer had been quite unpleasant, the customer looked at the clerk and said, “Thank you for being nicer to me than I was to you.” And in the other case, a customer left the store and then returned later with a gift and an apology, “I’m sorry about earlier. I am having a really bad day.”
The clerk and I agreed that of course we’d prefer that people (including ourselves!) would be our best and kindest selves all the time. But we know that’s not an expectation we’re likely to meet. So, instead, we appreciate the self-awareness to be able to notice bad behavior in the moment and to apologize and to maybe even rectify it a bit. (And no, no one was waiting in line behind me while we had this chat.)
Last week’s post has inspired me to pay better attention and more frequently notice the beautiful and loving and good around me. And these stories offered me some extra hope as I continue to resist the wearying threat of cynicism and despair for our world.
I hope this attitude and noticing will be a trend in the new year. I anticipate that we’ll continue to need plenty of #AntidotesToCynicism in 2020!
With love and gratitude for you and the beauty and goodness you bring, I am…