One of the things I love most about Summer, is the happy, lighthearted feeling in the air.
Even though we are now in the early days of September, the warm sunshine is carrying on. Flip Flops will remain the fashion shoe of the season (for at least another weekend), and that wonderful BBQ smell can still be inhaled from just about anywhere.
Summer has always been considered a happy season, but I noticed over the last several weeks that I’ve been stumbling upon my share of grumpy people. The temperatures out there may be hot, but the mood has felt a tad chilly.
Being an optimist by nature, when out in public I like to exude a good energy. I was taught early on that it’s not anyone else’s problem if I’m tired or having a rough day, so when I walk out my front door, its usually with a positive vibe and a courteous disposition. I normally get a lot of that in return.
But something in these last weeks has felt a bit “off”.
It started with my running into this unsociable dog owner in my neighborhood. Every few days for several weeks, we seemed to be walking our dogs at the exact same time. Without fail, when she sees us approaching, she yanks on her little dog, mutters how he is “unfriendly” then abruptly crosses the street.
I couldn’t help but wonder…is it the dog, or perhaps the dog owner who has the unfriendly issue?
But it was branching out from there…lots of discourteous drivers, seemingly stressed out store clerks, impatient customers in line ups…and most noticeably, the “Grumpy Parkade Guy” from my office building. He earned the title of being most noticeable simply because I started seeing him 5 days a week as I drove into our office parking garage.
One morning about a month ago, he just appeared at the end of the ramp. I think he was there to assist with some of the construction crews that were coming and going.
The 1st week, he glared at me every single morning. I’d pull in to see him standing there, hands on his hips, giving me a “look” as I drove past. Now granted, we didn’t know one another, so he certainly didn’t owe me anything…but he looked at me with such disdain and as though I was annoying him somehow.
On the 5th day of that 1st week, I got more of a “if looks could kill” kind of a look…Grumpy Parkade Guy had taken the glare up a notch!
So what was it? Did he not like my car, was my music too loud, did he have something against brunettes? I was creating all kinds of scenarios in my head and doing that thing we are never supposed to do…ASSUME!
So I decided to take action, I was determined to get this guy to smile. And that’s how Grumpy Parkade Guy became my little Positivity Project!
The following Monday morning I pulled in the usual way, and there he was, in his usual stance with that familiar scowl. I slowed down slightly, looked right at him, then extended a warm smile and a wave as I drove past. I think it caught him off guard. His expression went from grumpy, to slightly confused.
Tuesday, the same deal…slow drive by, a big smile and a wave. He responded with a head lift (but still no smile). Now for those that aren’t aware, a head lift is when you raise your chin up slightly. It’s not a full nod, just more of an acknowledgment. It was enough to give me hope that a tiny glimmer of progress was being made.
Wednesday I gave him my own head lift, flashed a bigger smile and extended the usual wave. His response was a head lift and a slight smile!!! I was definitely on to something.
Thursday…I was still initiating the routine, only this time he gave me a wave and a full smile in return! I felt like a kid who’d just got pinned with the gold ribbon on track & field day!
Then on Friday…I hit the jackpot. GPG (Grumpy Parkade Guy) not only gave me a head lift and a big full smile, but HE WAVED FIRST!
That’s right, he waved before I did! We’d hit a new level in our relationship. If I wasn’t strapped into my seatbelt with cars lined up behind me…I may have jumped out and done a small cartwheel right then and there!
It only took 5 days of me being consistently positive to turn the attitude of GPG around! My little Positivity Project was working out nicely.
So here’s what I learned…
I could have easily kept driving in every morning developing unsubstantiated and ridiculous scenarios in my head about this glaring, seemingly grumpy guy I knew nothing about (and still don’t). But instead, I took the positivity high road. I chose to step up and be the 1st to see if being more positive on my end, could instill something more positive on his end. It absolutely did and I was so excited because of it. It proved to me once again…that the gift is in the giving.
I’m happy to report that FGPG (Former Grumpy Parkade Guy) and I have continued on with our enjoyable early morning routine. We now smile and wave in tandem.
There can be a wonderful ripple effect when we extend a little random act of kindness. A simple gesture like a smile, a wave or any small courtesy has the power to change a mood or shift a state of mind.
My little Positivity Project became a very valuable experience, as I was reminded how it’s not up to us to know, make judgment upon, or decide anything about a person when they appear unfriendly or give us an unwarranted glare.
But maybe…just maybe, it is up to us to extend and inject a little positivity their way because of it.
The quote by Jackie Mutcheson sums it up rather nicely…”It Takes Each of Us to Make a Difference for All of Us”
For today friends…this is The World as Eye See it.