The world is a funny old place. We’re supposedly so connected with all the new technology we have, but we don’t know how to connect on a real level any more. We text and email, poke and ping, but we don’t know how to talk to anyone. We’ve forgotten our please and thank-yous. We rush around and sweat the small stuff and don’t stop to smell the roses or hug the person who means the most to us. Little things add up to big things and sometimes we need to stop and take a minute to remember that life is made up of moments and people, not money and stuff. The world needs a little more “us” and a little less “me”. There are simple things you can do that make a big difference:
When you’re at the checkout in a supermarket, talk to the person serving you. Don’t tell them your whole life story, but ask them how their day’s been, if they’ve got a long shift, etc. Just be pleasant. Remember, they’ve probably had to deal with lots of rude, grumpy, harassed people all day. Standing up. All day. Wearing an ugly uniform. They deserve your patience and respect and courtesy. Smile and say thank you. A “have a nice day” goes a long way.
- Servicemen. That’s one word, not two. Servicing men is not what I’m telling you to do. Unless you want to – I won’t judge. What I am telling you to do is be polite and friendly to any man (or woman) who comes to service your washing machine or clean your windows or fix your reticulation. Offer them a cup of coffee or a cold drink. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t do this. The same applies to work situations. Yes, you’re busy, yes, you have little time to spare and deadlines to meet. But you can offer someone a drink and a smile. Be appreciative. You need that photocopier to work, right? This guy is fixing it for you, right? Then be nice. The lady who empties your grotty rubbish bin each afternoon? She doesn’t do it because it’s her life’s dream to pick up after you – she could probably think of a hundred things she’d rather be doing. So make her day a little bit more pleasant by saying thank you and acknowledging her existence.
- Let someone in. When out and about driving on our busy, hectic streets, make it a rule to let at least one person in in front of you, every day. One person. It’s no big deal but you’re making that one person a little less stressed. Maybe, down the road, someone will let you in too. God help you though, if I let you in and you don’t give me a courtesy wave. That’s just rude.
- Don’t be a mucky pup. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. When sharing a space with other people, pick up after yourself. I will never understand why people can’t put used teabags in the bin. When it’s RIGHT NEXT TO THE SINK. It’s not a monumental task to throw it in the rubbish bin, is it? And tea stains, what is up with people not wiping up their spilt tea? Gah! It drives me nutty! Wash your dishes, wipe the sink, put your cup away. Be aware that other people have to use the same space as you and they don’t want to have to live or work in a manky filth pit. Work place kitchen areas are the worst. They bring out the inner grot in many people. Just because you treat your own home kitchen like a pigsty, doesn’t mean your co-workers have to put up with it in their place of employment.
- Random acts of kindness. Practice them. Someone at work looking a bit sad or worn down? Leave a little gift on their desk to cheer them up. Make it anonymous if you like (keep ‘em guessing) and let them know that someone is thinking of them and hoping they’re ok. The days of helping little old ladies across the street may be gone (they’re just as likely to run you down in their gopher or hit you over the head with their handbag) but you can always offer someone a hand, open a door, help them carry something heavy, return their library books for them, offer to take it in turns to clean up the kitchen (see #4). It’s not hard.
- Tell people you love them. Not just random people on the street – that might be a bit weird – but the people in your life who are there for you. I am lucky to belong to a family who uses the “L Word” a lot. Telephone conversations are ended with it, cards are signed with it and children are taught what it means. To give and receive love is one of the most important things in life. When I was sick in hospital, I believe I was saved by love. Sure, the medical professionals working around the clock to keep me alive played a part in my survival (a very large part) but I can’t discount the people who loved me and surrounded me with nothing but positive energy and hope and love. I know it sounds corny but it’s true. At the end of the day, no one was ever disliked for caring about people.
- Be tolerant. This can be a tough one. The world is filled with people and situations that try our patience. We may have different values to the people we share an office with or sit next to at Bingo and it can be hard to bite our tongue and turn the other cheek. But everybody is different and everybody has views and opinions – it would be a boring world if we didn’t. It’s how we learn and develop and find out new things and ways of doing stuff. I’m not saying if someone is openly racist or homophobic, sexist or just plain rude, that we have to smile and suck it up and pretend it doesn’t bother us. Some people do need a wake up call. Some people need to be told their attitude stinks and they have bat-crazy ideas and opinions. But, for the most part, it is better to let bygones be bygones and crazy people be crazy people and just be tolerant. For instance, I love animals, but I have some friends who don’t. Does that mean I should shun them and not allow them to darken my doorstep with their animal-hating presence? No, of course not. I don’t understand their feelings or opinions about animals, but I respect their right to have an opinion, even if it differs from mine. If they are otherwise pretty cool people, who would never actually harm an animal, then they are alright with me. Everyone should be able to like what they like and do what they like, as long as it harms no one else. Don’t you agree? Just be nice, dammit!
- Don’t gossip. Ok, we all do it. But we shouldn’t. Enough said.
- Give. Whether it be time or money or donations of food, give to others who are in need. Send a cheque, bake a cake, donate a bunch of clothes or school supplies. Just give. It will make you feel good – I promise.
- Be aware of other people. The world doesn’t revolve around you and there are other people on the planet who deserve attention and respect and consideration. When making decisions, think about how it will affect others. Don’t leave your shopping trolley in the last remaining car parking space because you were too lazy to take it back to the trolley bay. Don’t shove library books back in any old order on the shelf. Recycle. Don’t litter. Don’t hog the remote. Do think before you speak. Don’t take the last cookie on the plate before offering it to anyone else. Treat others as you wish to be treated yourself.
Simple stuff, but stuff that we sometimes forget in our busy, stressful lives. Being nice doesn’t mean being a pushover. It means being respectful and thinking about others a little bit. You can still be assertive and self-confident and a go-getter, but it’s wonderful if you can combine that with a bit of kindness and empathy. Maybe I’m old-fashioned. Maybe “nice” isn’t trendy any more and we’re all supposed to look after number one. But what a lonely and empty world that makes. So, today, just try and be a little kinder, a little more tolerant and much, much nicer. And that means being good to yourself too.
Have a nice day! 🙂