Can’t Help But Smile
Today was a great day! I received a parking ticket and the strange thing is… I couldn’t help but smile. Life has an amazing way of keeping you on track.
Let me rewind a little bit. I am a firm believer in paying it forward. If you’ve never heard the phrase, it can be summarized by anonymous acts of kindness… with the right intention. I’ll get back to this in a moment. There is a commercial that aired some time ago that puts a huge smile on my face every time I watch it (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5ya8J-jyK4). It begins with a lady kindly stopping a distracted man from walking into oncoming traffic. An onlooker in a coffee shop sees this act and later helps a woman unload her stroller off a public bus. Another gentleman sitting at the bus stop notices this act and continues the cycle, which eventually leads back to the original woman stopping the distracted man. Imagine a world where this commercial becomes reality; people being kind to others in every situation, for no other reason than compassion in their hearts.
I consciously make an effort to lead a genuine life full of love and gratitude. One of my life mantras is the quote, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” The world I envision is similar to the commercial; egos placed aside with love radiating through all. The change described cannot stem from ego-driven intentions. Acts of kindness must be pure and emanate from the heart. The intention is paramount. Don’t do something kind because you believe it will benefit you somehow in the long run, do something because you sincerely care about the happiness of another human being.
The easiest way of expressing love is kindness, which we are all capable of sharing. I have discovered that something as simple as eye contact and a smile can completely shift an individual’s energy. Throughout my daily routine, I try to engage in conversation whenever possible. Not the, “How’s your day? Good, how’s yours?” type of conversation but rather a conversation with sincere interest. If you don’t feel like talking to someone… smile! It will change someone’s day and possibly encourage them to share their smile and positive energy. Smiles are contagious. Best part about smiles? They’re free!
Tying it all back together as I revisit my parking ticket. Whenever I use a parking meter I purposely add more time than I know I need. As a result, upon my departure the person arriving to the parking spot now has time on the meter. I started this practice after being on the receiving end, noticing how good it made me feel. The smallest sign of kindness (whether the person before me realized it or not) ended up creating a significant ripple effect.
Well today I parked by a meter and placed the exact change for the time I knew I would be staying. I had one more quarter (the actual quarter from today so eloquently pictured at the top of this blog) and opted not to place it in the meter. I specifically remember the mental hesitation as I held up the quarter and placed it back in my pocket, convincing myself I would need it for laundry later in the day. You probably know where this is going. I walked out a short while later and attached to my windshield was a shiny yellow parking ticket from the City of San Diego. I checked the meter to see how long it had been expired… 3 minutes. I picked up the ticket, pulled the quarter out from my pocket and smiled. Sharing my gifts and expressing love in kindness is in line with the path that I lead. I steered off for a moment but life has a crazy way of reminding you to stay on track.
Have you ever picked up the tab for the person behind you in the Starbucks line… just because? Ever helped an elderly person with his or her groceries when no one was watching? What was the last random act of kindness you displayed? Try it on, even if it’s just a smile or an extra quarter in the meter and watch the ripples of your action unfold. It just may change your life.
-Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow-
Mike Sherbakov, CSCS, CPT, RYT