Don’t bring me down

My morning has been riddled with negativity today.  From the front desk attendant at yoga who scowled at me as she took my money (and we’re talking a three-figure transaction here), to the student next to me in class who kept repeating, “I can’t do that…. That pose is too hard… I can’t bend that way… I can’t get down that far… That is too much…. That is to difficult….” etc., etc., etc…..  From the seven crying and/or screaming children at the grocery store (yes, I counted), to the three different customers who literally pushed my cart out of the way to get past me [and please bear in mind that 1) I’m not a big person at all, and 2) I always stay to the side of the aisle so people can pass me easily], to the cashier who snapped at me as I tried to pay with a credit card (a la, “Don’t scan that yet!  It’s not going to work! I have to scan that here!”)…. From the rabbit who made his way through our fencing to munch on our trying-to-sprout flowers, to the dandelions that appeared today all over our yard…

Heck, even the store itself was negative!

(Not exactly helpful.)

Crimony!

And yet, throughout all of this, I didn’t get cranky in return.  I didn’t scowl, didn’t push back, didn’t lash out.

Instead, I looked for compassion.

I found compassion for the desk attendant when I saw the redness around her eyes.  Maybe she has allergies, and is just not feeling well?  Or maybe she had an upsetting morning, and is doing her best to hold back tears?  I wished peace for her.

I found compassion for the fellow student when I remembered that I, too, was once like that, full of self-doubt and fear.  I wished strength and courage for her.

I found compassion for the various children when I recognized that it was probably close to their nap times; they were all probably approaching various states of fatigue – and were responding in one of the only ways they currently know how.  I wished them all rest.

I found compassion for fellow shoppers when I realized that they were all probably operating under the mindset of our collective Western/American culture, a society that breeds excessive ‘individuality’ and hyper-impatience (among other things).  I wished them all relaxation.

I found compassion for the cashier when I became aware that she was the only person at the front of the store, and that the line behind me was quickly growing with irritated customers.  I wished her relief and ease.

I found compassion for the rabbits when I thought about the difficult lives they lead.  In the wicked cold and the intense heat, in the rain and the snow, in a fierce competition for finite food resources – they are simply trying to stay alive.  I wished them a painless existence.

I found compassion for the dandelions when I accepted that they weren’t personally attacking me or my property; they were simply doing what dandelions do.  They were taking advantage of fertile soil.  I didn’t wish them well (I still want them gone), but I did briefly smile at them.

By the end of this potentially crappy morning, I still felt good.  Despite all of the pessimism around me, I was still smiling.

And I like that.  🙂

Stef

P.S.  As a “reward” for keeping a positive attitude and air about me, in the afternoon things shifted, and suddenly terrific experiences came my way.  From an impromptu chat with a neighbor, to an unexpected email of thanks from a colleague, to a laugh-out-loud moment on a podcast I was listening to, the day seemed to turn on itself, and the downward slope began to change direction.  And I got to benefit all the more.  🙂

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About Stef

A "serious" gal who is trying to remember to lighten up and smile.
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26 Responses to Don’t bring me down

  1. A beautiful piece Stef.
    When I grow up I’d like to be as gracious as you. 🙂

    Like

    • Stef says:

      🙂 I almost didn’t write this post, because I didn’t want to seem all “oh-look-at-me-I’m-so-cool-nah-nah-nah” – that really wasn’t the intent or spirit of this post. Instead, I wanted to show that 1) I have ‘bad’ days too (though ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are incredibly subjective, and terms I really try to avoid using), 2) that responding with compassion instead of reacting with hostility really can help turn a day around, and 3) that anyone really can do this – it’s just a result of training. Four years ago I was a *very* different person, and would have snapped the head off of each of these people; but after many years of intentional self-reflection, focused effort, and just plain ol’ hard work, I really have changed rather significantly – and continue to do so. Today was wonderful ‘proof’ to myself that I really am living what I profess to hold as important to me; and so the day was amazingly in that regard, and therefore ‘worth it’ to me to write about it. 🙂

      Long reply to your comment – I bet you weren’t counting on a small essay in response! 😉

      Like

  2. rebekah says:

    Keeping a positive attitude certain pays off … on many levels. The part about the check-out in the grocery store, reminded me of an episode several years ago back home in my native Sweden: The woman was so stressed out, and she literally barked at me. I smiled at her and said «Happy Midsummer!» She totally lost it and started laughing. Hopefully I made her day just a little bit better…

    Apart from all this, it always seems to be different in all stores, whether you scan your own card, or if they do it. Sometimes you insert the chip thing… Nowadays, I just wait until they tell me.

    Like

    • Stef says:

      Oh my gosh, I had a fantastic visual of a grown woman barking at you in line in a store – hilarious! Wow, talk about a poor, stressed out lady…. I’m delighted you were able to see her pain in the moment, and were able to respond with such kindness; that’s truly wonderful.

      Like

  3. Touch2Touch says:

    You’re out of my league, Stef!
    A pox on all of them, would say I. (And then things probably would have gone from bad to worse, instead of brightening.)
    My compliments 🙂

    Like

    • Stef says:

      Thanks Judith. As I wrote in one of the comments above, it really is a result of training – so truly, anyone can learn this. Even you. 😉

      Like

  4. carlaat says:

    Loved this post. Reminded me of the Thich Nhat Hanh book, Peace is Every Step, which has a dandelion on the cover. Do you know the book? Great short essays. There’s one called, “The Dandelion has my smile”. I found it here: http://www.ijourney.org/index.php?tid=305
    Thanks again for reminding us how much power we have to make our day compassion- filled or angst-y. It’s really up to us!

    Like

    • Stef says:

      Carla, I actually own Thay’s book – and I really enjoyed it (and still enjoy revisiting it from time to time). It’s amazing how much of life really *is* in our hands, and within our “control” – if not the facts of the situation, certainly our responses to them. 🙂

      Like

  5. deenie12 says:

    I loved this post! Well done on everything- even smiling at the dandelions. 🙂

    Like

  6. Joss says:

    What a living breathing example of “be the change you want to see in the world”. Good for you for sending out compassionate energy and in turn being blessed with a great afternoon.
    May i repost this on my blog?
    joss

    Like

  7. Pingback: Be the change « Joss Burnel – The Crowing Crone

  8. Ros Fogel says:

    Good one Stef – as recommended by Joss. You’ve made me smile for the first time today … I’ll continue.

    Like

    • Stef says:

      Ros, I’m delighted that I was able to help you smile today; that genuinely touches my heart. Thank you for reading, and for commenting! I truly appreciate it. 🙂

      Like

  9. Hi Stef,
    Good to see your great attitude. We all have our ‘bad patches’ however the key is not to let it get You down…….and you have done that. You never know how the other person is feeling unless you walk in their shoes. Joss Burnel “The Crowing Crone” suggested that I drop in.
    Be good to yourself
    David

    Like

    • Stef says:

      David, thank you so much for reading, and for commenting! I really appreciate it.

      That Joss, she is something, isn’t she? 😉

      Like

      • Joss writes some interesting posts. Will catch up on her latest right now.
        Be good to yourself
        David

        Like

      • Joss says:

        aw shucks! So glad to see many of my ‘peeps’ dropped in to visit. Kinda like introducing one friend to another!
        walk in beauty.

        Like

      • Stef says:

        Joss, it absolutely is like introducing one set of friends to another set – great analogy!

        You seem to have some terrific (and loyal!) followers; I’m delighted to get to meet some of them. Thank you again for facilitating our introductions. 🙂

        Like

  10. barb19 says:

    I’m here on your blog on the recommendation of Joss, and I’m so glad I did – I can see why she directed us here.
    I loved your post, and it just goes to show that we all have choices in life – we can choose the negatives, or we can choose to make a positive out of a negative. You chose to be positive – and look at the rewards it brought to the rest of your day!
    By the way – I’d have done the same with the dandelions!!

    Like

    • Stef says:

      Barb, thank you so much for commenting, and for subscribing! I really appreciate it. And yeah – I’m trying to really accept all things just as they are; but I can’t yet accept the dandelions. Just goes to show I’m still human. 😉

      Like

  11. Popped over here from Joss’ blog! Beautiful post…and such an important reminder not only about being compassionate…but also about how we can control how we let outside influences affect us.

    Like

    • Stef says:

      Melissa, thank you for visiting from Joss’ site, and for choosing to subscribe to mine! I really appreciate it.

      Compassion can be such a powerful force – for others, and also for ourselves. I’m a fan. 🙂

      Like

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