Friday, 10 October 2014

An Unexpected Lesson in Kindness

I read this article - 15 things Incredibly Happy People Do - last week. And I loved the principles! A lot of the things listed are things I try to do in my everyday. But I admit there are times, where the wear of the day-to-day grinds me down. So I have made it my mission to be more mindful of my attitude and actions each day. And one of my goals is to compliment someone every day - Kindness breeds Kindness. And I also think Kindness breeds Happiness. Happiness for others, but also happiness for yourself. I think it is almost impossible to do something kind for someone, and to not feel happier, lighter, more relaxed.

A lesson that was really brought home, but this stack of parking tickets. (yes they are all mine, kind of...)

At the moment they are doing construction on our building, so we are not able to use our parking garage. We have all been sent to park on the street for the next month while they complete the work.

And if you know anything about Toronto, than you know that the parking attendants can be aggressive. You can't even run in to grab a coffee without ending up with a parking ticket (I learned that the hard way a couple of times...)

So our building asked the city for a parking exception. And we all got special notices to post in our window. But despite having my number posted, the parking attendants in my neighbourhood keep giving me (and the rest of the people in my building) tickets anyways.

After ticket #4, I started to get frustrated. Will they revoke these tickets? Will I have to pay all of these fines? Am I parking in the wrong spot? What the heck?

So I called the city to ask what was going on. I ended up speaking to the woman who is responsible for ticketing/parking grievances in my area. She was defensive and not extremely helpful. I didn't really feel like she was listening to me, and I felt myself getting upset. I could hear my tone change. I was starting to get short and match her terse attitude.

But as we talked, I realized that she must spend all day being defensive. All she gets are calls from angry people who have been ticketed or towed. No one says thank-you. No one calls to say great job.  It must be hard to do this type if job day in and day out.

So I relaxed my tone. I thanked her for being patient and for talking with me. I also told her, that I realized this must be a pretty tough gig, so I appreciated what she did.

She laughed, and I could tell she was smiling.
I was smiling too.

How often do we overlook that person on the other end of the phone. How often do we curse that guy that cut us off. How often do we ignore someone else's experience and someone else's plight, but galvanize our own?

Kindness breeds Kindness. And it requires so little of us - maybe a little more patience, maybe a little more empathy - but it can have such a big impact.

I challenge you to do something kind today. 
Maybe we will all smile a little brighter this week.

Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail