Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What Goes Around...

Without ever conducting a formal lesson, my grandfather taught me how to treat people. Today at age 94, he spends most of his time at home or with family. But for years, he was a respected businessman here in Houston. Along with his father and brother he ran our family's business (a funeral home) for most of my lifetime. It wasn't so much the things he said to me about how to treat people, but it was the way he lived his life. He was always patient and always kind, even in stressful situations. He dealt with clients in the way that he would want to be treated. Many times free services were rendered when the customer could not pay....not with a promise to pay or I.O.U. involved, just because he believed in helping people. My grandfather passed on a legacy of compassion and kindness that will be with me forever.
I've been trying to look for opportunities to perform random acts of kindness and have come up with one way to affect someone's day and perhaps even beyond that, by simply celebrating the good in people. How often have we encountered rude or grumpy staff at restaurants or stores? We've all had bad or no customer service and an overall negative experience before at establishments where we, ironically go to spend money that helps keep these people employed. My point is that there's no shortage of these bad experiences.
On the contrary, its rare to come across someone who loves their job and is more than happy to go above and beyond to make sure that your experience in their establishment is a good one. You know the type: knowledgeable and friendly in a way that exudes sincerity and is undeniably from the heart. I decided that positivity is something to be celebrated and so I have pledged to do just that. Anytime I go anywhere and come in contact with someone who is kind and takes the time out to really be a helping hand, I will acknowledge and celebrate that.
I recently went to a book store in my neighborhood and came across one such positive person. I left the store feeling better than when I came in and decided that this guy deserved to be the recipient of my first random act of kindness. So I called the store a little later that day and asked for a manager. Apparently this struck panic amongst the staff there, thinking that something surely must be wrong. So the manager comes to the phone all ready to diffuse my anger and solve whatever problem I might have. "There's no problem, sir. I was just calling because I was in your store earlier today and the guy who helped me was really great so I just wanted to call to let you know that he's doing an awesome job." All that he could say was "really?" It was in that high-pitched-no-way tone and then he started laughing. "Please come back to the store," he says, "and ask for me when you get here, I'd like to shake your hand." The next day I get to the bookstore and meet the manager and he wanted to know why I did what I did. I explained to him that there's enough that's wrong with the world and its smeared all over the news and its in the way people treat one another and so I've resolved to celebrate what's good and pure and positive in the world. He looked at me and said "you really have no idea what you've done." Apparently when I called that day before, the manager was doing an employment review for the guy that helped me. When I called, he was just signing it and then got paged to the phone. After our conversation, he went back and added notes and it pushed the guy's review way into the 'we-are-SO-keeping-you' category.
More often than not, we don't get to see the full karma circle, you know, the 'what goes around, comes around' deal. We know that we should treat people kindly because it could come back around and so we do our part and are nice and polite. I was blessed to be able to witness it all come back full circle. Within 24 hours, I saw how that bookstore clerk going the extra mile to help me gave him a full return on his investment of good into the world. What if we all decided to be kind to everyone we meet? What if we all became carriers of positivity, peace and joy? Not just because we believe that its going to come back to us, but because all human beings have value and worth. And because you never know what that other person is going through and what kind of an impact your interaction will have on their day, and possibly even their life.
My grandfather will be 95 years old in December of this year and, if nothing else, he has left me a wealth of wisdom and a beautiful example of how to live and love. In the famous words of Winston Churchill, "we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
I am determined to continue my mission to be a better me, despite any negative obstacles I might encounter. I will accentuate the positive and continue to celebrate the endangered good in people. The way I see it, my mission has succeeded if I can touch even one person's life. I hope that person is you. Have a great Tuesday!