I’ve been debating whether or not to write this post, as it will be filled with my opinions on negativity and there may even be a heavy dose of my thoughts about how people “should” behave. But as with all my pieces, I write from my experiences and well I HAVE something to say about a topic and I’m just gonna put it out there exactly as I feel it! I welcome your thoughts and input and can’t wait to hear your opinions….
The other day I wrote about the value of being nice and ever since then I have been very “tuned in” to how people act and react towards one another. Sadly I have noticed something, people are NOT participating in their lives. Sure they are going through the motions, doing the activities on the never-ending check list, running from one place to another but ask them how they are and be ready for an ear full of all the stuff they still have to do and how miserable they are going to be doing it.
They have become so self absorbed that they are missing out on the important things in life; family, friends, community, a child giggling or even an elderly couple holding hands. And what’s worse is that it isn’t only affecting them, it’s actually hurting everyone around them as well.
Instead of gratitude there is the attitude. Instead of smiles there is impatience. Instead of being helpful, there is rudeness. No wonder there are so many miserable people out there. Stress levels, depression and anxiety are at an all time high. Why? Because we are surrounded by attitude, impatience and rudeness. That simple fact makes it that much harder to focus on the good things, or to be grateful for the magic in our everyday lives and it’s affecting every one of us in some way. [Tweet “Actively participate in every moment and watch your life improve.”]
Many “motivational experts”, myself included talk about how important it is to keep your thoughts positive in order to create the life you desire. But how can you do this in an environment that isn’t conducive to positive thoughts? How can you do this if you are bombarded with negativity. No wonder why it’s getting harder and harder for people to stay in a positive place with some of the “crap” going on out there. Which is why I decided to share my thoughts to shed some light on various situations where I have seen a lot of negativity:
Thought #1: Just because you take your dog to the dog park (or your children to the playground) doesn’t mean that you are responsible dog owner (or parent).
Talk about not participating in life. Some of the biggest offenders are those people who go to the park and just check out emotionally. They think that they are doing “right” by their kids (human and canine alike) by getting them outside, in the fresh air, exercising…. yada yada….The reality is that everyone else is tending to the needs of their little ones while they are relaxing and taking a break. In the mean time, their dog (or child) is running wild, potentially hurting others, misbehaving and through no fault of their own making it miserable for everyone else around them.
The park is a place to interact. It is a place to come together and learn valuable social skills. It is a place for fun. And in order for everyone to have fun, EVERYONE needs to be responsible. It’s not my (nor anyone else’s) job to make sure your “kid” follows the rules and “plays nice”. It’s not fair that I have to watch where I walk because you didn’t clean up your dog’s poo. When your kid throws rocks and hurts mine, that’s just plain rude. And when you ignore the fact that your “kid” isn’t following the rules, and doesn’t “play nice with others” sadly they are the one’s who will suffer in the long run.
Parks are a place for community and when everyone plays fair we can all have fun. Will I push your kid on the swing when they are next to mine. Of course. Will I throw the ball for your puppy when they are playing nicely with mine. Absolutely. Do I subscribe to the “it takes a village” philosophy? Sure. But when I’m forced to take on the responsibility of watching your “kid” so that mine can have fun, I get frustrated. And the sad part is that you don’t even get that I am more than happy to help you so that both of us have experiences at the park that are enjoyable.
Thought #2: The isles of a grocery store are NOT, I repeat NOT a nascar track.
You know who you are, and I will admit, I have been guilty of it too. But the fact that you are in a hurry doesn’t mean that the sea of shoppers should part so that you can “do your thing”. I see it all the time, the shopper who is in a rush that nearly takes out the person comparing prices. Oh yeah we see the dirty look you send our way when we take to long choosing the right cut of meat. And heaven forbid the check out girl calls “price check” when you are behind us in line.
For some people the grocery store is the only time they get a break from their kids. Maybe it’s the only time they actually get out of the house. And maybe they need to take time to comparison shop because they are on a budget and trying to do the best they can in order to feed their family. So again I say, it’s not their fault that you are in a hurry, and it would help us all out if you put on the brakes and learned a little patience.
Thought #3: The isles of the grocery store are Not a playground!
In keeping with the grocery store theme, I have never seen playground equipment anywhere in the isles of my local grocery store. News flash, isles are not to be run in. They aren’t designed for pushing or wrestling matches. Carts are movable objects and are not meant for standing or pretending to be a carnival ride. And for goodness sake any child under the age of 5 shouldn’t be walking around alone! Notice I NEVER said don’t bring your kids to the grocery store! In fact I encourage it. What a perfect place to teach all kinds of valuable skills, from what is healthy to how to do math; the possibilities are endless. BUT again, all we ask is that you participate with your children. Be responsible if you choose to bring them, it makes a difference.
Imagine being a 3 year old. There are new people, new sights, tons of smells, colors and yes even their favorite sugary cereal! And guess what….if they are stuck in a cart and you ignore them what do you think they will do. They are over stimulated with no outlet! They will push, yell, ask for things and yep make the rest of us (AND YOU) miserable. So make it an adventure and a learning experience, and we all will be better off!
Thought #4: Pick up after yourself and the other people in your entourage!
Enough said 🙂
Thought #5: When the opportunity to help someone else presents itself ….take it!
We are all busy, and I get that often we are running from thing to thing and we can’t. But there are times when we aren’t in a hurry and we can take that extra moment to make a difference. Maybe it’s letting the person behind you with the 3 kids in tow go 1st in the check out lane or helping the stressed out mother whose little one is throwing a temper tantrum rather than judging her parenting skills. Perhaps it’s assisting someone recover their hat or pick up the stuff the wind just carried away. Maybe it’s even paying for the guy behind us at Starbucks or just letting someone know that you “get it” when they are getting frustrated. Paying attention to the little things and making them just a bit better can make a HUGE difference in someone’s day, and I challenge you to make it a habit!
Thought #6: Don’t jump to conclusions
I can hear it now…those of you who say isn’t that what you are doing? And no I’m not. I’m just writing about the behaviors I see first hand and am making suggestions that would make each situation just a little bit better for everyone involved. I don’t judge the lady in a hurry, I just ask that she is considerate of those around her. I don’t judge the mom with the screaming kids, but have a suggestion for how her next outing might be better.
You see I get that life is full of crap. I get that you still have to go to the grocery store hours after your father passes away. I understand that sometimes you need a break or have to get out and the only place you can go is the park. I feel for the mom who’s toddler runs off screaming and they have to go get them amidst rolling eyes and judging stares. I’ve been there wandering aimlessly through the isles with tears streaming down my face when all I wanted was to have him home for Christmas. Trust me I’ve been there.
But when a stranger comes up to you and says “Who do you have to buy for”? and helps you choose gifts for your kids when you can’t focus, you really “get it”. You get that it’s about participating in our lives no matter what it is we are doing. It’s about being part of a community of people who support one another in small and meaningful ways. And it’s NOT about judgement.
The 5 minutes in which that stranger, who btw happened to be a military spouse and understood why I was so lost, made such a difference in my life that I will be forever grateful. And I don’t even know who she is. That is what I’m talking about. The small things. The important things. The things that as a society we are seeing less of. No matter where you are, at the park, at the store, with your dog, with your kids you participate in the actions around you in a way that affects others. And you get to choose how you do it. Choose attitude and negativity, or choose the right way. It’s up to you whether you will participate with impact, compassion, responsibility and love verses living a life filled with negativity, attitude, rudeness or impatience.
So whether it’s being attentive at the park, or patient at the grocery store or offering a helping hand, as Gandhi would say “Be the change you want to see in the world”. It matters to everyone around you!
~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of LivingThruCrisis.com, Judy’s books Right Side Up and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Risk are go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com