How To Spread Positivity (And Not a Virus) With Minimal Effort
By Ummay Aimen, Legends Report Writer
Let’s go back in time for a few moments…
Now I can’t remember the time and date when I decided to do this thing (which is unsurprising really; sometimes I can’t recall anything about a video I’d watched only a few minutes back!). What I do know however is that I started doing this thing - and making it a habit - early this year.
So there I was, little quiet me, standing at a pedestrian crossing after pressing the button, feeling deflated (as well as tired and sweaty) after an interview had gone down the drain and it was time for me to go back home. At that moment, as I stared up at the red man ahead, a lady in perhaps her late forties or early fifties ambles next to me. She has a pink complexion and creases that hug the skin on her face, showing her older age.
Then it happens. A thought drifts into my headspace and gently but insistently tugs for my attention, telling me to ‘do it’ ‘just do it’ ‘go on’ ‘quick! Before the green man starts flashing, and she walks away never to be seen by you again’.
I do it.
“Excuse me?” Due to my nervousness and shyness the two words come out as a half-whisper half-mumble, and I begin to regret my decision. We make friendly albeit slightly awkward eye contact.
“Your dress looks really nice on you.” I immediately feel a swarm of butterflies in my stomach when this lady, easily old enough to be my mother, breaks into a smile. It’s one of those smiles where the cheeks rise and the outer corners of the eyes crinkle up.
“Oh, awh, thank you!” she says, but before I get the chance to say you’re welcome, she gleefully adds “It’s from H&M!” to which I can’t help but grin.
Within a blink of an eye, the green man flashes so I cross the road and walk towards the bus stop to head back home.
What’s the moral of the story?
None of us know what anyone else except for ourselves are going through. What’s more, let's be honest: a lot of the time we don’t quite understand and haven’t properly come into terms with what we ourselves are going through. Perhaps it’s very bold but perhaps it’s also true for me to say that most of us won’t achieve true introspection because hard work is uncomfortable, whether it’s in the form of revising for an exam, calming a wailing child or giving in your Notice to the manager.
And yet, despite this notion, we as human beings have the shameless (and quite pitiful) audacity to constantly and ruthlessly abuse each other. Our close friend. Our sibling. Children. Strangers. Be it physical, emotional, financial, psychological or anything else.
“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
Emily Dickinson (poet)
Hope. There is always hope, because just as a seemingly small thing can stomp on an individual’s psyche - particularly areas like one’s self-esteem and confidence - a seemingly small thing can also foster the growth and re-growth of an individual’s spirit. In essence, this is a central message that I wanted to try and get across through the anecdote above.
A Win-Win Interaction?
Both parties benefit from the exchange of pleasantries;
- Quantities of oxytocin (the love hormone) in the brain are released from helping others as well as due to engaging in social interaction, especially that which is meaningful
- Both individuals are rewarded with an improved mood and self-esteem; the complimenter from carrying out a loving act and doing good, and the complimentee of course from receiving a kind word about themself
- When small but regular loving acts such as these are carried out between established relationships I.e not between strangers (e.g siblings, partners etc.), this expression of gratitude and thoughtfulness strengthens the attachment between the two individuals
I would like to end on a definition of love offered by M. Scott. Peck, author of The Road Less Travelled:
“The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.”
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Ummay, I really enjoyed this! Thank you for sharing your experience with us – the vivid detail and energy, what you learned from it, and how it can help others. Stunning how small things stack up to be the big things! Can’t wait to read more from you, all the best for this happy new year! x
I love how you extracted so much from the interaction you had with the lady, and how it can be applied to more consistent relationships too. I think it’s great how you overcame your nervousness, and the negativity from the experience of the interview to make a positive impact on a strangers day. It really is the little things that count!