On a recent flight across country I sat next to a gentleman who over the course of 5 hours had me really thinking about what I say to myself at the end of each day. Interestingly I did not have a warm experience as his neighbor and what I noticed was that while he was off-putting toward me my heart was sad for him. I wondered at his distain and possible life experiences that would etch such a deep scowl. I know it could simply be he was feeling lousy or so terrified of flying he was paralyzed in his own world of ‘just getting through the flight.’ It could be a million different things…yet it reminded me of our connection to each other. Regardless of our circumstances we can choose to be open and warm or shut down and distant. It wasn’t my job however to ‘teach’ him this, simply to show him it through my actions.
I decided to imagine him belly laughing and sharing a fun story with someone he cares about. Imagine him a vulnerable man with stories of victories and pain. In my heart and actions I turned on a kindhearted light in an effort to cast warm glow over the darkness he seemed shrouded in. Instead of feeling miffed at his dismissal I chose to meet it with a simple smile, kind word and genuine interest in leaving him with this message: he mattered. What he did with that message, if he even noticed, is completely unknown. What I know is what I notice, what I choose and how I act.
NOTICE what you tell yourself when encountering an unpleasant interaction with another person, do you make them wrong, do you feel put off? Do you feel challenged to make their day a bit better?
CHOOSE to take a higher road, think a braver thought. Choose to hold the other in compassion and leave them with your brightest light.
ACT warmly, kindly, respectfully through your words or maybe simply your body language and eye contact. A little smile in someone else’s darkness goes A LONG WAY, for you both!