I noticed that by the end of my work week I was short on compassion. My go to was frustration, impatience, or barely disguised anger. It was simple things. I was missing paperwork that had been promised me. A pair of reading glasses broke. Or it was a string of simple annoyances.
I thoughtfully ordered a huge container of white vinegar and a large box of kosher salt to minimize the growth of bamboo, an invasive species, from our garden. I was already annoyed that our neighbor’s bamboo had crept into our plot of land. And I was aggravated that the two separate (un)handy people did a poor job of weeding out the bamboo. But now the very heavy package was not delivered to my office but was left at the post office for me to pick up. I was complaining about this to a friend while walking, and she listened without judgement, making me smile even while I was grumpy.
I went to retrieve the box, first having to stop by my office to get a cart to roll there. I don’t love the look of me dragging the blue covered shopping cart on city streets, but I am relieved to be old enough not to care as much about what I may look like. I got to the post office, and only had to wait briefly for the postal rep. I presented my printed paperwork since there was no notice left on my door, only an email telling me my package was not delivered.
She gave me a knowing smile and told me that my package was not there. It was at another post office. I showed her the email stating that it was delivered to her location. Her next smile was kinder, and in a gentle voice, as she clearly saw that I needed cautious handling, she explained that this was a regular occurrence, and she was sorry. My frustration melted slightly by her kind demeanor, and I went on my way, rolling the cart on the bumpy New York sidewalks until I reached the next post office.
The lines were long. I wanted to groan audibly, but I stopped myself. I decided to stay, cleaning up email inbox while I waited impatiently. When I finally got to the counter I was again greeted by a friendly representative. She was happy because it was her last day. She recognized my name because my large and heavy box was damaged. I girded myself for the worst. But when I got the box, yes it was crushed, but the cargo was not damaged, and I could take it back to my garden to rid myself of the pesky bamboo.
Since I had the cart, and surprisingly there was still room in it, I stopped by the grocery store to replace a few items. And what started out as an inconvenient and annoying chore turned into an appreciation for how easily kindness and happiness shared can shift my mood. My irritability is a good indication that I’m ready for a vacation, which I will be taking this week. Yet, I am pleased that I am not so attached to my anger and frustration that the kindness of a friend or a stranger can’t turn around my mood.
When I’m tired or burnt out it’s so easy to get irritated. Just as negativity is contagious, so is thoughtfulness and joy. I will do my best when feeling less depleted to be considerate of others. Maybe, they too, don’t have to let a bad mood become a bad day.
- If you’re tired or upset or both seek out kindness. It could be a worker, a friend, or a stranger who can uplift you with a kind word, a smile, or light humor.
- If you’re in a good mood, share it. Be generous, it’s free to share happiness. And it multiplies your joy.
- Replenish daily items that make life a little easier, whether it’s a mini hand sanitizer, a pen & pad, emery boards, wipes or tissues. Having these supplies in your bag or close by make life a touch easier.