It was a crappy, cold, cloudy day. I was sick. I hadn’t slept well. My best friend was being a crab. And I just needed some coffee. I went to the McDonalds up the street between clients and went through the drive-thru. I placed my order and the chipper person who helped me informed me that the car in front of me had paid for my order. Though the actual clouds didn’t lift– my mental ones sure did. That’s been either a year ago, or maybe nearly two. But I remember it like it just happened.
I hope the thoughtful person stopped and watched as I learned what they’d done– as a smile replaced my cranky frown. But even if they didn’t, I bet they got nearly as much out of that as I did. The next time I went to get coffee, I was having a pretty good day. But it was again cold and rainy. The movie “Pay it forward” came to my mind, so I did exactly what someone had done for me. I didn’t stay to watch, because I didn’t need to. Once I made up my mind that I wanted to do that, my spirit was warmed long before I ever got the coffee. The strangest thing was that it started spilling onto the rest of my day. Once I had done that one thing, I wanted to do more things. I complimented strangers genuinely. I smiled at people who looked extra grouchy. I offered to help with things when I saw people struggling with too many things in their hands.
My mom has the gift of giving. She’s an extrovert and loves doing small things for people. For her and people like her, this post may not make much sense. She’s already doing things all the time for all sorts of people. I’m perhaps her opposite on this– I’m an introvert and would be perfectly happy to stay in my own little bubble. For me, experiencing such a bubbling over at engaging with other people means something changed. Since the drive through experience, I try to make it a regular practice. It makes me a better human being, and that’s worth the effort. But even though its something I work at these days, it still makes me just as happy as it did the first time. A lot of the time, it makes me happier than even receiving that cup of coffee did.
I don’t know why this is the case, but when we step out of our own lives for a second our own load seems to lighten just a little bit. Our step becomes peppier. Somehow kindness done for someone else becomes not only a gift for them, but for us.
“If you want your day to get better, try making someone else’s!”