As I was driving to meet my friend it began to rain heavily. “Just my luck,” I thought. My mind pictured me getting drenched without an umbrella. “Catching a cold again, oh no.” I drove around the block in circles looking for an unmetered parking spot. But the only space I could find was in the parking meter zone. It crossed my mind that I would have to walk from the car park to the cafe where we’re going to meet, get drenched, and pay for the privilege. “Awesome.” (Don’t you love your self-talk sometimes?)
I looked around the car and saw a scrunched up plastic shopping bag in the door pocket. “Oh well, it’s no umbrella, but it’ll do.” I put it over my head and ran to the parking meter. To my surprise, someone had left a parking ticket in the docket window of the meter. There was still over an hour left on it. “Wow! Maybe they forgot it? They couldn’t have just left it. How nice! But why?” A smile came out on my face even as the sun stayed away behind the clouds and the downpour kept true to its name. What if we all did some small stuff for each other, without expecting to even meet, let alone get some benefit from it? “Utopia.”
I sauntered to the cafe thinking how seemingly simple things get us up and down the frustration and happiness lanes many times a day. Simple things like getting wet and finding no parking are no match for having no food on the table or having a sick child? “Nothing about these things is down to simple acts of kindness or putting smiles on people’s faces by altruism or positive thinking.” Or is it not? Putting a bag over one’s head will keep the head dry, but the body may still catch the cold. The chatter in our heads will continue to drain our energy, but the smiles from our memories may recoup it. We all hope for the best, but usually imagine the worst when things go awry.
Remember the good stuff when bad things happen. Accidentally or not, bad things will happen. You will be less likely to think that bad events are somehow piliing up against you when you remember the good stuff. Surprise strangers with the good stuff. Perhaps one day you’ll be surprised yourself. Random acts of kindness. Yes, you can do a lot to prepare for, fend off and fight the negatives you wish you didn’t experience in your life. You can beat yourself up for the endless negative self-talk your mind tends to produce. Or you can train the self-talk to prop you up instead of undermining you. But it helps when you have a belief that the world is not against you. In fact, to remember the good stuff is to remind yourself that the world is inclined to support you. Believe it or not.