Ellen DeGeneres ends each show with the same line, “Be kind to one another.”
It’s a beautiful and simple mantra that I wish everyone would practice.
Because it costs nothing to be kind, and everyone we meet is fighting a battle that we know nothing about. Because I still believe in the good in people. I still believe people can change the world.
On the flip side, I am also a realist.
I know when someone is behaving like a jackass it can be hard to not want to drop-kick them in the head. I used to let my temper get the best of me. The New Yorker in me was quick to respond with, “Whaddya lookin’ at?” and “You got a problem?”
I’ve mellowed some (but still, don’t wake a sleeping giant). And while I’m making a conscious effort to accept that people are going to behave the way they want to, and I have no control over them, I’ve also learned I can control myself. So I’m trying to show more compassion, patience and empathy to every person I meet.
A simple encounter during my weekly grocery shopping routine shed light on how one simple act of kindness can change someone’s day.
I was checking out in a grocery store, and the cashier was clearly unhappy that day, or maybe just in her whole existence on earth. Her attempts to interact with me felt robotic and emotionless—she was just going through the motions of her workday.
At first, I was irritated. Here I am—happy as a clam, having a good day—and this woman suddenly brought the rain. Maybe she just needed an umbrella, so I decided to brighten things up a bit.
I took a minute to really look at her. There were bags under her eyes. Her fingernail polish was chipped. Her hair was tied back in a messy bun. She looked worn out from life.
I waited for our gaze to meet and said, “How are you?” She looked surprised. “Well, I’m here.”
I smiled and said, “Well I’m glad, because I have no idea how to ring myself up, and every day above ground is a good day!” She let out a little laugh and smiled, “Better than pushing up daisies I suppose.”
I took an opportunity to keep her smile from fading by adding, ”So how about you and I blow this taco stand and go grab some margaritas on the beach?” She busted out with a big laugh. ”You buy and I’ll fly.”
Her whole energy had shifted from when I first approached the check out line.
Did I change her life? Probably not. My only goal was to make our small interaction a pleasant and positive one—and maybe make her laugh a bit.
If we can make someone laugh, we’ve already won. Think about the last time you had a really good laugh. I am talking about can’t breathe, almost pee your pants, contagious laughter. These are the moments that make life so exciting and joyful.
So let’s stop judging—stop thinking we have everyone figured out. We don’t. People show us what they want us to see.
Next time we find ourselves in a frustrating situation with someone, remember we are all connected. What we don’t like about others is usually a reflection of what we don’t like about ourselves. We are here to learn, grow and embark on this journey together—our paths just look different.
Be kind, be understanding, and more importantly, leave people better than when you found them. Because what the world needs more of is love.
Author: AnnMarie Roschilla
Editor: Nicole Cameron