How a Little Connection Can Go a Long Way
My goal this morning was to write a blog on the comparison game, but I felt a pull to write something else. I want to write a story today and I hope you enjoy.
About three years ago (time is flying so I can't accurately recall when this was), I was in a funk. I was feeling sorry for myself and stuck in a hole of self-pity that I dug up all on my own. I was craving connection. I wanted to feel loved, valued and appreciated. We ALL do, we are human. We crave to be understood, to feel worthy and to feel comforted in the presence of others. We are wired for this connection and we can actually feel physical pain when we experience social pain. So although my needs were normal, upon reflection, I wondered why this feeling was so strong at that time. I have such an incredible support system of loved ones, a system that I am so grateful for every single day. I realize now that I was essentially yearning for something and I set my expectations so high. I wanted people to reach out to me, instead of me reach out to them. So that in itself, was causing a barrier for me. I can't expect reciprocity if I don't try as well. I put up a wall of expectations and that can be hard for others to jump over. I felt sorry for myself and got stuck in this lack-based mindset, thinking there isn't enough to go around and I don't have anything. Writing this out, I feel like a bit of an idiot (sorry, my self-deprecating remarks is a habit I aim to work on). But hey, we always learn when we're looking at a situation through a different lens. Anyway, back to the story, now that I've set up the scene for the dark rain-cloud that I put over my head.
I was running errands for work one day, bouncing from one downtown office to the other. It was cold, I was feeling lonely, and all I wanted that day was for someone to ask how I am. Is that so hard? Well, yeah ... my body language and facial expressions were anything but inviting. I was closed off but in need for some sort of external validation. I had many opportunities to connect with people that day. I could have called or texted someone, I could have had a chat with someone at work, I could have had a conversation with my Uber driver on my trip downtown, I could have been friendly to the barista at the coffee shop. But NOPE, someone please connect with ME and not the other way around. Ugh.
Anyway, I finished running my last errand of the day and was on a busy downtown street waiting for the Uber to come bring me back to the main office. I had my headphones in and was probably listening to music to make myself feel more sad and dig my self-pity hole even deeper. I noticed a man walking down the street, holding a bottle of pop, and looking out to the world around him. His smile was infectious and he had such a gentle innocence about him. I couldn't help but smile to myself as I turned back to my phone to see how much longer the Uber would be. As I stood there, closed off and peering down into my phone, I felt a presence beside me. I looked up from my phone, turned around, and there was the happy man looking at me. He looked like he was trying to engage in a conversation, so I took out my headphones and said "sorry?" thinking I had missed a question of his for directions, or something like that. He replied, "you didn't hear me." I told him I had not, and asked him to repeat what he said. He said, "oh, I was just asking how you are today." Even writing this my eyes are getting teary. It was so kind, so sweet and so unexpected, yet incredibly welcomed. This stranger just grabbed my arm and pulled me out of my metaphorical self-pity hole. I told him I'm okay, and asked how he was. He told me his name is Billy and said how great he's doing, it's a wonderful day, and that he's enjoying a walk outside. We chatted very briefly, and I let him know my cab was here. Billy held out his arms, and although I had a heavy box in mine, we had a little hug that warmed up my day. I got in the car, I talked with my driver about it and I shed a bit of tears. My day turned around and all because of the connection and kindness from a complete stranger. I don't think he will ever know how wonderful that made me feel, and I wish I could thank him.
Connecting with others is a very important value of mine. I believe in the strength of connection and how we are all connected in some way. However, I am so aware now that being open to others to experience this is also quite important. When I walk down the street, I try to be mindful to make eye contact and smile to others (not all the time, I'm not perfect and sometimes I am in a mood and want nothing to do with the world). I love to interact with people on the street and I love then sharing these moments and stories with others. These little micro moments of connection, or big moments, spreads through to other people. Because this man broke through my walls I put up, I then got to share and spread that to others. It was like electricity, lighting up my life, and I felt happy to spread that along by sharing the heartwarming moment with my friends and family. Kindness comes in many forms, and kindness doesn't cost a cent. But it's one of the most incredible feelings to give and receive, and I think we can all benefit from acts of kindness every day, no matter how big or small. Kindness can come in many forms, such as showing yourself compassion, messaging someone to let them know you're thinking of them, giving someone a little gift or compliment, or respecting the boundaries of yourself and others.
We don't know what is going on with everyone and we don't know what pain they are in. When someone is having a bad day and they brush past you on the subway, it can be hard to not take it offensively. That's why I try my best to assume the best, even when it's really hard not to react otherwise. Sometimes I still react and think it's personal, but I try way harder now to assume that everyone is just doing the best they can today, with whatever they've got. Some may be experiencing heartbreak, some might be in a feud with a friend, others may have just lost their job, and some may be searching for their next dollar to feed themselves and their families. We're all going through shit, so let's try and not give each other shit. Say hello to the homeless person on the street, even if you don't have change to spare. Let them know you see them, acknowledge them and wish them a good day. Share a laugh with someone you don't know. Pay it forward somehow. Call up your parents to remind them you're grateful. Ask someone how their day is in the elevator. Place yourself in someone else's shoes for a moment or even try to see their world with their lens. Our perspectives are all so different, but these little moments add up to big things. Let's spread some kindness, connect and remember that we are all humans here, trying to do our best.