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My day started out a little rough. My dog woke me up at 6:30AM—hungry, ready to play, and refusing to let me pull the covers back over my head.  As I got ready, I realized I had forgotten to go to the market the day before.  After rummaging through the cabinets, I scrounged up a packet of waffle cookies, a tortilla, and a lone banana and then I headed out to my car.  I started it up, already late, and noticed the gas tank light immediately switch on.  I made my way over to the nearest gas station, paid the attendant, and put the nozzle into my gas tank.  Click, click, click, the nozzle refused to pump the gas.  I stood there for a minute or two, let out a few painful sighs, and wondered to myself “how am I ever going to get through this day?” And then the woman getting gas next to me walked over, shared that this happens to her all the time, and kindly offered to help jostle the nozzle into place.

It was a small favor from a complete stranger but in that moment, it felt like so much more.  What had started out as a really off day, turned around in an instant all because one person decided to commit a random act of kindness.  For me, it served as this subtle reminder that we’re all in this world together, celebrating similar joys and suffering similar defeats.  I felt comforted, I felt happy.

And so I went along through my day with a different attitude than I had started out with.  And at the end of it, as I was walking through the parking lot to get home, I noticed a distraught dog-owner trying to get his puppy to “go potty.”  He was radiating frustration and it made me think about all the times I was on that same patch of grass, trying to get my brand new fur-baby to go to the bathroom.  On any other day, I might have just walked on by, silently feeling sympathetic and wishing him luck but on this particular day, I remembered the woman from the gas station, and I stopped.  I shared my similar struggles with him, empathized with how much it sucks, and gave a heartfelt “it get’s better.”

I don’t know if I comforted him in the same way that the woman from the gas station comforted me.  I don’t know whether he walked away from that encounter thinking “that was nice” or “she should mind her own business.”  But I know that I walked away with this hope that maybe my one small act of kindness would somehow influence him to do something kind for someone else.

If you’re thinking that this anecdote sounds really similar to the plot of a movie…I thought the exact same thing as I was living it.  I watched “Pay It Forward” that weekend—the movie about the teacher who gave an assignment to his students to “think of something to change the world and put it into action.”  So the little boy comes up with a plan to “pay it forward,” which involved doing a favor for 3 people and asking each of those people to also do a favor for 3 people, and so on…in the hopes that it would spiral into this kindness domino effect.  One of the quotes from this movie is as follows:

“I guess it’s hard for people who are so used to things the way they are—even if they’re bad—to change.  ‘Cause they kind of give up. And when they do, everybody kind of loses”

Again! This reminder that we’re all in this together, we’re all connected, and we all affect one another through our actions.  I think this is so important and so often overlooked.  We go about our days, oblivious to the “strangers” around us.   It can get really easy to isolate and get stuck in a daily routine—get up, go to work, come home, go to sleep and in the process…ignore everyone around us.  But what happens when we disconnect?  We start to feel disconnected because we’re simply less approachable…we’re putting out this “don’t talk to me” vibe and all of a sudden, we’re a little isolated and we’re a little lonely.  So what if we do the opposite?

What if we all start to care a little more about the people around us?  What if we start to reach outside of our own bubbles and offer small acts of kindness to the people who cross our paths?  What if we start to push some good into the world?

If you are struggling with anxiety and need someone to talk to, schedule an appointment here. 

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