I was back to my old ways this morning. I rolled from the bed to the shower and then moped my way to the train stop down the street. Which means I was my normal grumptastic self on the train and politely scowled at the woman talking too loud on her cell phone. I’m mad at myself that I didn’t make use of the time before work. Damn it, Mornings, why do I hate you so, you ugly, cruel bastard!
What do I do here? Do I continue this struggle with my bright-eyed nemesis or do I just make peace with the fact that it’s not going to happen and this is a futile war? It just seems like such prime, useful time. But I’m trying to be flexible in this project and experiment with what works and what doesn’t, so I guess I’m glad I got the chance to see what it’s like not taking advantage of the morning, but I’m still stumped on this one.
Overall, though, today was a bit of a game changer on the negative perspective front. One of the tasks in particular kind of blew my mind. It’s a meaty one, so I’ll save it for last.
Reflect on something good that happened
I’m about 4 or 5 months into my current job. New jobs are hard, especially in this current brain state, so my depressed, unconfident, self-conscious ways have completely ruled the school when it comes to inter-office relationships. Just like a nervous teen at a new junior high, I am, of course, convinced they all see through me and know I’m total fake and a fool. Everyone seems really nice for the most part, and I totally recognize it’s all coming from me as I stumble on my words and awkwardly slink away. It was particularly bad in the first couple of months, but as I grow more comfortable and identify like-minded people to cube-chat with, this gets a little easier. Mostly.
I shared this blog project with a few coworkers. The minute it came out of my mouth, I wanted to punch my own face. WTF, Randy?! This information is so personal! Why are you sharing this if you’re already painfully self-conscious. But I did it.
And a few hours later, I came back from a meeting to find a bouquet of fresh flowers on my desk with no note or name attached. Since there was no occasion to warrant this, I’m convinced of three things: 1) it had to have been one of the co-workers who knew about this experiment and was offering up their own random act of kindness (I’m fairly certain I know who it is, actually); 2) I work with some pretty extraordinarily great people; 3) I worry too damn much.
In addition to life and mornings, I also struggle with transitions. Going from home to work, from work to home, from social to alone, alone to social, asleep to awake—just to name a few. One of the hardest daily transitions is going from a fast-paced, anxiety filled workday to a calming, quiet space at home where I’m again confronted with myself. The preferred medication to handle this transition has been a bottle of delicious, anxiety-reducing, self-avoiding, pleasure-filled wine.
Today, I tried to think of exercise as the transition medication and walked home from work—a 2-mile walk that ends, of course, in another steep hill. It didn’t work as instantly or as noticeably as a bottle of wine does, but it did help a little. I also feel if I did something more challenging at the end of a workday, the help it provides could be more impactful. But it’s hard to find time in the day and for some reason I’m scared of doing something harder.
I did the obligatory 15 minutes when I got home. I continue to struggle with this one and might need to change it up somehow. One thing is for certain, though. Do not meditate on an empty stomach because instead of counting breaths, you will count tacos. And sometimes chicken strips.
3 things I’m grateful for:
1) Louis Niebur for supplying me with Coronation Street – a guilty pleasure that’s much easier on the liver
2) Being the beneficiary of someone else’s random act of kindness
3) A home that I feel proud of and safe in
Random Act of Kindness
I have a confession that I need to come clean about. Don’t hate me, but my previous random acts of kindness were, in fact, totally planned. I thought it out in advance, added it to the day’s to-do list, and then completed the task. They were heartfelt, but not at all covered in the spirit of random. I’m really sorry. This one is hard, though, and makes me nervous in a way the others don’t. But today I ran out of ideas, and decided to really embrace the word “random,” and wait for something to present itself. This changed everything.
Not knowing what the kind act was going to be, I had to watch for it all day. In every interaction, in every meeting, every phone call, every walk outside, I had to be watchful for an opportunity to be kind, and it completely changed my perspective of the world around me. There were opportunities everywhere, but they were subtle and easy to miss, and I wanted to be more than polite and nice, I wanted to be kind. Most of the things I saw that I thought could really count involved interacting personally with a stranger. There was a nervous man at Starbucks holding his resume that I could have just simply said “good luck” to. There was a woman on the train who looked frantic and kept looking at a city map that I could have offered help to. But these things required me to talk to them, to step out of my shell and be seen by them, and I totally whimped the hell out. And it occurred to me that kindness requires courage.
I was leaving work and started to worry that I wasn’t going to get this one done, so I said to myself, “Self, the next clear opportunity that presents itself—you’re taking it whether you like it or not.” And I swear on a stack of chicken strips, that just a single step later a homeless man walked past me who was talking to himself and said, “Do I need food? Yes.” Does it get any clearer? Yes, it does actually. He was also right in front of a Starbucks. So I walked inside, bought a sandwich, and walked up to the man. I didn’t say anything, just gently touched him on the shoulder and placed it in his hand. No exchange of words, he didn’t even see me, but I was able to overcome my own inhibitions to help this guy out for an instant.
And I realized that the word “random” is a crucial component of this task. I looked for opportunities to be kind all day, and it set my brain to notice instances where I could be kind to someone—not nice, that’s different. I mean fearlessly kind. Even after I gave the guy the sandwich, even though the task was officially completed, this stuck with me, and I noticed other opportunities on my walk home. I was looking at the world with kindness. I’m not sure if kindness automatically equals happiness, I’m actually not sure yet what really defines happiness, but seeing life through the kindness lens for a day has really shaken something up.