I’ve had something in my mind for a while now, helping me navigate each day.
It was something Brené Brown said in her Power of Vulnerability audiobook, and it was basically this: “Are you trying to make the world better or worse? There is no in between – it’s binary.”
Sometimes the simplest of lines hits home hardest. It’s made me reassess every action or word since I heard it. Perhaps in my previous life I would’ve been sharp with someone on the end of a phone who is trying to sort out a problem for me. Now I think, “Perhaps they get angry people all the time and would appreciate a kind word.” Perhaps before I might’ve stood steadfastly in a queue for the checkout because it was ‘my turn’, but now I check behind me to see if the person there is only carrying a carton of milk. I let them go first.
It’s all those small actions that add up to a whole day of making things better or worse.
On yesterday’s solo hike, I sat outside a café in a small village and watched a woman in her eighties helping people. She appeared to be a community volunteer wearing hi-vis armbands.
If someone looked lost or confused, she got up out of her deck chair in the shade, put her hand on their arm and asked, “Can I help you?” Even if she couldn’t, I noticed that each person she approached looked so happy after the encounter.
That lady. That’s who I want to be.
2 thoughts on “For better or worse”
I’ve worked in customer facing roles in retail a lot, and know how wretched some members of the public can be to you. About four years ago I decided that I would make an extra effort with the people working behind tills that I met. So now, I usually greet them with hi or hello, and then “how are you? Are you good?”. I’ve seen them physically perk up and light up, that someone has thought to ask them how they are doing, rather than just wait silently and barely speak to them. We often have a fun little chat and as I leave, I usually say “take care, see you soon” to people I see regularly in town, or just “bye, take care”. Occasionally they won’t even speak or make eye contact and I take that on board, and accept that maybe they’re having such a bad day that they haven’t got the energy to deal with me. I’ve been there myself, especially when I was being bullied by another member of staff at a previous job. I look at it this way. As far as we know, we’re alone in this universe so we should bloody well look after each other! It hasn’t steered me wrong yet.
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I do the same thing (I mostly always have tbh). I think I slightly trained myself not to do it when I moved from North Wales to London, where I got funny looks when I spoke to strangers in a friendly way.
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