This morning I went for lovely spring walk, and decided to pop into a local shop known for their delicious wood-fired bagels. The transaction of ordering and buying was businesslike and uneventful, but when I picked up the bagged sesame seed bagel, it was still warm... In delight, I exclaimed to the proprietor, “I love that this bagel is still warm from the oven!” Suddenly smiles broke out, and sincere wishes for a beautiful day were shared openly.
I love how a smile, or a sincere compliment can lift the energy in so many situations. It may seem small, but it can have big results.
I remember another situation a few years ago when I went to pick up a rental car to drive to an out-of-town teaching engagement. I had booked online the night before, but so had everyone else in the waiting room. It was a summer Saturday morning, it was very busy, and there weren’t enough cars on the lot. Customers were getting angry very quickly… many were hoping to enjoy as much weekend as possible, and many bookings were time sensitive. People were taking out their disappointment and anger on the agents at the counter, even though the situation wasn’t their fault. In fact, the agents were doing everything possible to arrange cars from other locations, and to keep their cool.
I weighed my situation and keenly felt all of my own irritations, anxieties and opinions bubbling up. I had allowed a comfortable driving time, but would I be late? OMG I would be letting my students down! Why was this happening? They should be more organized, etc. (You can add a few of your own comments here too; I know you know what I am talking about.)
Luckily, meditation and yoga have ingrained some very practical tools into me. Pause. Take a breath. Reframe. Look for a different, and better, perspective instead of the usual habitual response. I took a few deep breaths. I did some calculations about timing, and I also gave myself permission to call ahead and say I would be late, if it came to that. And then I started to look around and feel into the room.
The energy around me was foul. So much anger, irritation, blaming and worry… and it was growing as people continued to complain and find blame. Time seemed to crawl. Everybody’s situation was more important in their minds than anyone else’s; very few could see the Big Picture. Yes, it was an unfortunate circumstance, but we were all in this together. So, how to help?
Someone had to become an agent of change. That someone was me that day. It was time to introduce the antidote into the room: Spread Joy! As each customer in line got the news that their car had arrived on the lot, I let out a cheer and started a round of applause. I started conversing with people about their reasons to book a car that day, and heard lovely stories of family reunions and camping trips. This caught on, and in short time the whole room was celebrating as each booking was fulfilled. People were talking to one another, and even letting others go ahead of them if their need was greater. The energy in the room had completely changed. Even time seemed to be flowing more freely….
I know you are wondering, so I will tell you that I too got my car and made it to my destination just in time. Driving with purpose but without rushing, and with a light and joyful heart. (Okay, I didn’t have time to stop for my beloved espresso before teaching, but that was a negligible sacrifice under the circumstances!) I even used this true story as an illustration in my class that afternoon, as we were studying Yoga Psychology and Philosophy that very day.
So, the act of Spreading Joy led to a very Happy Ending. I’ll let you in on a little secret. That would have been plenty, but it didn't end there. There was also a Happy Ending, Part Two. Every time I booked a car after that day, I was given an upgrade at no extra charge. It turns out that the agents had talked about that morning all week, and wanted to show their appreciation. Wow.
A little Joy can spread out in waves! I hope this little post has put a smile on your face, and planted a seed. And now, dear Reader, how can you spread Joy today? Let’s make this world a better and brighter place together, shall we?
Sending Blessings and Radiant Love to You,