The sun was shining bright and there was an extra spring in my step after a killer workout this past weekend. The red cart with the famous bulls-eye on either side was filled with household essentials as I walked to my little black hatchback in the parking lot. There was a woman about my age parked next to me, strategically placing her purchases in the back of her own car. Her cart seemed to have a mind of its own and kept rolling away from her. It was cold and I could tell she was frustrated. I smiled to myself because I’ve totally been there. A man with his face in his phone dodged around her rouge cart without even a second glance as she went to grab it again.
As I stopped behind my car and quickly tossed my stuff in the back, she put the last of her stuff in her trunk and her cart was off on its own again. I laughed a little as I grabbed it for her.
“Why don’t I just get rid of this thing for you?” I said with a smile as I took her cart and mine to the nearest cart corral, without stopping to wait for her answer.
“Thank you,” she said to me with a laugh as we both climbed into our respective cars.
“That thing was pissing me off!”
I laughed and we both went on our way.
Such an uneventful moment, yet it got me thinking about how many ways we interact with people every single day – both intentionally and unintentionally. It’s so easy to get annoyed or irritated and project that on the people around us. Sometimes just a small act of kindness can completely change the trajectory of someone else’s day… and more importantly your own.
Today was a particularly challenging day for me at work. The specific events don’t matter, how I handled them did. I kept catching myself getting really frustrated and upset… but then stopping to take a step back and assess the bigger picture. How could I handle the situation in a way that would have a positive impact rather than continue the negative? What was the root cause of the original source of frustration?
It’s a question we all need to ask ourselves whenever we feel anger or frustration coming to a boil. It’s okay to feel those things, I would be worried if you didn’t. What’s not okay is to perpetuate that anger in a way that fans the flames of negativity. Flames spread. Quickly.
Instead, really think about the other people involved. Take a moment to wonder what else could be going on that you can’t see, causing the chain reaction.
How can you approach the situation with a positive motive, rather than a reactionary one in haste.
It’s something I have to constantly practice. Sometimes I let frustration get the best of me, but I learn from it and handle it better the next time around. It’s interesting to observe the difference in results. Try it in your own life the next time you start feeling anger. How does it change your relationships with those around you? I’d be interested to hear your experiences…