Does it really matter whether or not we hold the door open for someone behind us? What about saying “Thank you” to the grocery store clerk or letting the waiter at the restaurant know that we appreciate their service? How about:
- Scooting over on a crowded bus or subway so someone can sit it the seat next to you instead of stand?
- Letting someone behind you in the checkout at the grocery store go in ahead of you, because they only have a couple of items?
- Sending a thank you note to someone deserving?
What difference does it make if we do any of these things or not? Are they even worth doing? Does it even matter? I’d say that it most certainly does matter
When we spend our days ignoring people we cross paths with, we can begin to see people only as objects that have little value beyond what they can do for us in the short-term. The longer we do this, the easier it will be to become detached and disengaged from the people around us, willingly thwarting opportunities to connect with others and hear their ideas and perspectives. Some of which may have been beneficial to us. As a result, our world shrinks, becoming small and self-centered. I certainly don’t want to live in a world where I’m the center. What a small world that would be.
We also forfeit opportunities to brighten the world of those around us when we fail to acknowledge or encourage others who help us, provide a service, or who are just in close proximity to us. That may not sound like a big deal, but I can’t think of anyone I know who doesn’t appreciate a kind word, an encouraging word, or a heart-felt thank you. I know I do. It makes me feel good and has a positive impact on my day. I’ll bet it does for you too! If we appreciate that, doesn’t it seem reasonable that those around us would appreciate it too?
When we say, “Thank you”, or offer encouragement, or give someone our place in line, we do the following:
- Acknowledge their presence and worth
- Let the know that we appreciate their contribution
- Communicate to them that they matter as fellow human beings
We are fortunate that we can influence our world by how we acknowledge (or not) those around us. We can ignore and dismiss others, leaving a cold impersonal wake behind us, or we can choose to acknowledge our fellow humans with a kind words or actions.
I love the quote from Gandhi that says, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Have you ever thought that the world is becoming ruder, more isolated, more impersonal, more…? If so, here’s your chance to put Gandhi’s quote into practice. Begin acknowledging those around you with kind words or actions. Try this for a week and see if it doesn’t brighten the world of those around you. My guess is that it will begin to brighten your world as well.