Monday, June 29, 2009

Kindness in a Crowd

I have been thinking a lot the last few months and moving towards becoming a kinder person. This is not because I have particularly been an unkind person in the past. It is because I see that having others be kind to me improves who I am, and me being kind to others improves who I am, so it is a win-win situation. Both the person on the receiving end of the kindness and on the giving end of the kindness benefit.

One way that it is easy to be kind is in a crowd. Unfortunately, when people are in crowds, they tend to be stressed in some way or another which makes it difficult to remember just how easy that kindness can be. Don't you feel great if your toddler is crying loudly at the store and a random stranger gives you a kind smile? Doesn't it feel good to be let ahead of someone in line when you are in a hurry or to be instantly forgiven with a grin and a "no problem" when you literally run into someone coming around the corner. How about if the tall guy at the concert lets you stand in front of him so you can see?

How can you be kind when you are probably stressed too? First of all, if you are feeling less than kind towards someone, change your story. That lady who barged in front of you when you were looking at the lettuce? Maybe she is legally blind and could hardly see you and needed to be extra close to the produce herself so that she could make her selection. Maybe she is in a hurry because she is late and her babysitter needs to get home to her own kids. Maybe she has her mind elsewhere because she just had a death in the family. In general, people are not out to get you! Give them the benefit of doubt, and smile their way. You would be surprised how many grouchy people will relax and smile back if you bless them with a big grin. This is also an excellent tool if you feel you have made a faux pas. If you bang carts in the grocery store, smile and say your sorry. If you think you jumped the line at the bank when the other guy really might have been there first, smile and say, "Oops, I didn't see you. You go right ahead."

Don't forget about treating your loved ones with kindness in a crowd too. I have seen mothers who are incredible nice to strangers, but who scream at their children simply for not acting in the narrow way that the mother deems correct. Again, change your story. First is your kid really doing something wrong? Maybe he or she is just being himself. Second is your kid hungry or thirsty or bored or tired? How can you remedy the situation? Remember, chances are he or she didn't have much of a choice about coming along, and even if he did, he probably can't decide when you will leave. Treat your partners and friends with kindness too. Remember that you can't control others, but you can keep a joyful attitude yourself and strive to share it with everyone you meet.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Trusting Others and Trusting Myself

Until I was a teen, I trusted myself. My parents did a good job of raising me in a way that allowed me to learn about myself and to feel safe in and with myself. I cannot necessarily say the same thing about school and my peers. When I was a teen, maybe at sixteen or so, I started not trusting myself anymore. It wasn't a huge thing to begin with. It was just little blips, little things that didn't add up, little things that I didn't understand that made me doubt myself. In college, it continued in an on and off way. Then, when I was married, my trust in myself plummetted to an all time low. I really don't know exactly how it worked, but the important part I suppose is that for a few years, I didn't feel any connection with myself, for in my mind connection and knowledge often equals trust. If you know someone, you can trust them. For trust doesn't mean that someone will be perfect, never hurt you, or fulfill every promise in the book. Trust means that you know that someone will act in a predictable manner that is true to their character.

It took a few years, but after my marriage ended (in my mind at least), I got myself back. I once again could trust myself. I was growing and learning of course, but the foundation of trust was there. What about trusting others?

Well, I have often thought that I am very trusting, but the truth is that I am not. I can be very open, but that is not the same thing. You see, when you equate knowledge with trust, it is very hard to trust anyone until you have a lot of knowledge about them. Luckily my intuition has increased as I have matured, and I have grown in my ability to see and know people with less interaction. It is the kind of puzzle that I am good at, putting together the pieces to figure out the whys and infer those things that make someone tick. I realize that people are much more complicated than that, but you would be surprised how a mix of intuition and logic can help you to know someone and ultimately to trust them to be who they are.

I think that a lot of people don't trust others because they do not think that they are trustworthy, and they think that others will make the same mistakes that they would. The truth is that they are right! We all make mistakes, ourselves and those who love us. If we want to trust and ultimately love others (and ourselves), we must accept that no one is perfect. We must accept that mistakes will be made. We must accept that sometimes not everyone is going to want the same thing, and if something is important to someone, they are going to act in their own best interests. This is the way that it should be! No one should want anyone to be miserable!

This social dance that we all weave is incredibly complicated and not at all as simple as many preach at us in early childhood and as we mature. "Do unto others as we would have them do unto us" is an incredibly complicated sentiment. So is "do no harm." "Share," Impossible for many in many situations!

I could go on for this is one topic that is near and dear to me for I am here on this earth to learn trust, and I still have a long way to go! But I think that is enough thoughts to share this evening.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Fruits and Vegetables

I enjoy eating fruits and vegetables. They taste great, there are so many wonderful varieties, and they usually leave me feeling good inside. Diana has diabetes, and eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables is one of the easiest ways for her to manage her blood glucose levels. In the fall of 2007, we decided to challenge ourselves to eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. It went fairly well.

Then as so often happens, it seemed to get complicated, and we stopped making it a priority, and before we knew it, we were scraping by eating far fewer fruits and vegetables than we preferred. This month, we have challenged ourselves once again to eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. So far, it has been going well. At the end of the month, we will evaluate how we feel and decide if we want this to be a permanent change or not.