Kindness to Others
I’ve noticed from time to time that every once in a while the smallest thing will make me unhappy or quickly alter my good mood to pissed off.
Just the other day, I was swimming laps at the pool minding my own business when a guy jumped into my lane and started crowding me. Which is somewhat normal to do when all of the other lanes are being used. But that wasn’t the case because there were two other lanes open. I quickly bounced over to one of the open lanes and began to seethe. I couldn’t shake the annoyance. Why would he crowd me in the lane that I was swimming in, when there were two other lanes open? It didn’t make sense to me. The more I thought about it, the more pissed off I became.
Now, writing it down sounds so stupid. I was ready to swim over there and dunk him or yell at him in English knowing that he spoke Spanish (I live in Spain).
The whole situation was ridiculous and I knew better, but I couldn’t get over it. I know now that I should have focused on the positives and left behind the negative thoughts.
What I should have done at that moment, I should have started reciting my favorite mantra in my head, Loving Kindness.
May my heart be filled with loving kindness
May I be well
May I be at peace and at ease
May I be happy
Or, I could have started speaking Spanish in my mind, which usually distracts me. You see my Spanish is so bad that I have to think really hard to conjugate all of the verbs in my mind. Once I start thinking in Spanish, I usually forget about the rest of the world.
Another exercise I have found helpful is to make a mental list of the things that you are grateful for. I should have thought to myself:
I am grateful to have this amazing swimming pool in which to exercise.
I am grateful for my health.
I am grateful to have learned how to swim as a kid.
I am grateful to be able to afford a gym membership.
I am grateful to have the opportunity to live abroad in Spain.
I am grateful to be surrounded by other like-minded individuals that like to swim, which allows this pool to remain open.
There were so many things to be grateful for in that instance, but I couldn’t stop focusing on the negative. Remember, there were other lanes free and I had just bounced over to one of them. It was beyond ridiculous of me to continue with my negative thinking.
Once I cooled down, I laughed at myself for being so foolish.
How can we go from extremely happy to getting extremely annoyed in a matter of seconds? On the flip side, it is next to impossible to go from extremely annoyed to extremely happy. I think a large part of it is “living in the moment”.
If I was living in the moment and present in my mind I wouldn’t have thought another thing about it. I should have focused on my breathing and my stroke. I swim for fun and fitness. There is no reason I should ever feel pissed off in a swimming pool. I was doing something positive for my body and my spirit.
There are always other options to having negative thoughts. We could all slow down and be thankful for being alive. Too often we become annoyed with others for being in our space. Maybe we should be happy to have others around and make an effort to socialize with them. Right?
When you go out for drinks and strike up a conversation with a person at the bar and they look at you like you are crazy. Why go to a bar to be non-social? It is all part of our responsibility to embrace the company of others and share this beautiful world we live in! Research has shown that people who say hello and make eye contact with strangers are happier and live longer.
Next time you are on the bus or walking down the street, make a point to say hello and smile at a stranger who may need some sunshine in their life. Both of you will benefit from it!