A couple of months ago, I was at McDonald’s buying my morning coffee – by the way it’s the best coffee in the world. Seriously – it’s amazing! Love it – I’m not even a coffee drinker, I’ve been a tea drinker since I childhood. There truly is something special about their coffee though – and I’m a snob. I admit it, I love my creature comforts. Roughing it to me now is staying at the Holiday Inn instead of a 4 star hotel, I shudder at “Furr-berry” (fake Burberry) and the cheapest lipstick that touches my pout is $18 – so you know if I’m going to McD’s for coffee, it’s fab. The people who work at the one near my work are kind and so lovely. They believe in “smiles are free”, they are unfailingly pleasant and they never get my medium with double milk and double sweetener order wrong. They even try to remember my name. Anyway, I was at McDonald’s and the lady serving me says to me “It’s on me today”. I did a double take and tried to give her the money thinking that I’d misunderstood. She insisted that I didn’t need to pay for that, that I’m always nice to her. I walked out of there dumbfounded and overwhelmed by this small act of kindness. It happened to me again in January with another lady that works there. Again, I was dumbfounded. I rarely, if ever buy food, just a coffee, and yet I was still rewarded. I know people joke about working at McDonald’s, but I can tell you from having helped out there on McHappy Day for several years, that the people who work behind the counter are smart, hard-working and very deserving of respect. I can also tell you that those small gestures made a big difference in my day.
The final chapter in “You Being Beautiful” is called “That’s the Spirit – How to Find True Happiness”. This chapter outlines the six paths to happiness. The first three are (I’ll continue tomorrow):
1. Being Postive – and Generous – According to this path, there is “…one secret that makes people healthier and happier: helping others.” I can only speak to my experiences, but I do feel at my best when I am doing something that helps someone else. For 3 years, I tutored kids once a week at an after school program at my old workplace. Actually, about 15-20 of did this. The children that I tutored ranged in age from 11-13 and had varying needs. One simply just needed some quality time with an adult – he was really bright, one had some small behavioural problems (although I never saw them) and needed a bit more help with school work, and the last girl that I tutored was also fairly bright – I think history was her challenge. I cared for all of them and the end of the year was always tough because they would be upset, I was sad, and I had to say good bye. One of these kids actually inspired me to do the one thing in my life that I am the most proud of – I got each one of the participants in that homework club a home computer loaded with Microsoft Office free of charge. They weren’t new, and it took a little digging, but I got them. It was the most amazing feeling knowing that they could now have an easier time keeping up with their classmates. If you ever have an opportunity to volunteer – take it! Just figure out what cause is important to you. It doesn’t have to be weekly – even just a little help can make a big difference.
2. Feeling Empathy – Empathy, according to the book “…allows you to connect with other humans – and transcend your differences…the more connected we feel, the higher our degree of generosity and compassion”. Empathy is an amazing thing. You may not know exactly what someone is going through, but you may be able to use something that happened to you to provide support. How many times have you said – “I feel your pain” to someone? You don’t exactly feel it, but you can empathize. When someone shows me empathy at a difficult time, I see it as the highest form of compassion. I feel like they understand why I may feel the way I do, and that is what make me feel less alone or embarassed.
3. Finding Authenticity – This is a little tough to explain unless you are Dr. Phil. It’s basically “keeping it real”. It means that you aren’t superficial – ok, even I am not as superficial as I may appear. How many people say “This is my friend Jane – she’s nice, but a bit of a phony. She’s great though” when they are introducing their friends to people? I personally, don’t like being phony. You have to be to a certain extent in your day to day life since you won’t always love everyone that you work with or people that you meet. I think the point is to be the most real that you can be. I’d rather wear my emotions on my sleeve (which I do – I have no poker face) than pretend that I’m something I’m not. Being authentic is also about “…knowing how we exist in relationship to other people and to the world.” Basically, just face it, the world doesn’t revolve around you – it revolves around ME! Just kidding, nobody is that important in the scheme of things – well maybe Martin Luther King Jr, the Dalai Lama or Hillary Clinton. One person that I am impressed with right now is Pope Francis – I know I’m Jewish but truly, it’s gratifying to see a leader act with sympathy and compassion. I see pictures of him embracing disfigured people, helping the poor and just delighting in the small moments of life and it makes him human. He acknowledged (FINALLY) that gay people shouldn’t be judged, is reforming the Vatican Bank and doesn’t even bother with the trappings of wealth. He walks the walk – or in short is authentic. He may not be preaching to the choir when it comes to me, but I applaud him.
There is too much to write about in just one entry so I’m extending my February topic until March 1. Tune in tomorrow for part two of this entry!