Kindness eases life’s everyday drudgery

What a rude and pleasant place this world can be. One can see how a born optimist may learn to look at things through a pessimist’s eyes, and vice versa.

First scenario, for an optimist seeing pessimism: picture a grocery store checkout lane on a busy evening, kids all over the place and one forgotten item found after the cashier has already been paid. She rings up the lone item, it’s paid for and the optimist offers an apology to the next person in line. Instead of hearing a generic, "It’s no problem" after the apology, what is heard is, "No you’re not." Shock, like a slap in the face, is the best description of what was felt. A grown man with his children just verbally slapped an unsuspecting shopper with rudeness.

Second scenario, for pessimists seeing optimism: A much-needed vacation concludes with a stroll through the French Quarter, just as a fat, black cloud splits open like a busted seam with no umbrella to be found. The optimist silently curses the rain but makes the best of it continuing on in spite of the downpour. A brief stop in front of a bar to wring out the hair and clothes, and just before stepping into the rain again, a waitress from the bar gives an umbrella and expects nothing in return.

Did this really just happen? It did. And for all the amazement felt at that moment, it was returned to the very waitress that gave it. Four and a half hours later, the umbrella was humbly returned and heart-felt thanks tendered to one happily surprised barmaid.

We all have bad days, but do bad days give us the right to make others uncomfortable? And if you are having a great day, why not share the happiness?

"Please" and "thank you" have always been around, but general kindness seems to be slipping from our society. This does not mean people are rude all the time, but the simple things that express gratitude and sincerity are becoming harder to find. Our world has become so entangled with its daily happenings that there just doesn’t seem to be time for anything else. We notice the bad, but seldom the good.

In interpersonal communication classes, students are taught how to listen, react, respond and speak to others on a personal level. Everyone, at one point or another, has seen an acquaintance or someone familiar passing by. The conversation usually goes like this: "Hey, how’s it going?" Yet neither person slows down long enough to respond or listen; this has become acceptable and even commonplace in our busy world.

The next time you are in a rush, headed for wherever it is you are going, take a look around. It is almost guaranteed you will find someone who could use some type of help. If you pass someone you recognize, slow down if only for a moment, to hear his or her response or offer one yourself-the tricky part is getting the other person to slow down with you. And if you see a stranger who appears to be having a rough day, a simple smile can go a long way.

Remember, the adages heard throughout life still hold true today. Sometimes it is necessary to put yourself in someone else’s shoes for a while; do unto others as you would have done unto you, and a smile really can reach all the way around the world.

Realistically, we can’t go around all day, every day, with a goofy grin on our faces (lest we look a little loony), but when simple gestures are offered, let them be done with sincerity.

With fall semester beginning, there should be ample opportunity to witness all these things. Try to think back to your freshman year, your first day of classes. Could you have used a friendly face or a little help? Most likely the answer is "yes."

Lastly, try not to let the pessimists discourage you, or the optimists get on your nerves.

MousaviDin, a communication senior, can be reached via [email protected]

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