DO ONE REALLY NICE THING….

                   

Last week I was sitting in a packed waiting room waiting (what else?) to have an MRI done on a foot I’ve almost completely wrecked…thanks to walking too many miles in five inch heels. I was a “walk in” (no appointment) so my wait was even longer than most people’s. But everyone was rolling their eyes and looking at their watches. An “older woman” sitting next to me sighed. She was holding a copy of  The New Yorker, but wasn’t reading it. “It’s endless,” isn’t it?” I said to her. “Yes,” she said. “And I forgot my reading glasses.” “What a pain,” I said and went back to the  New York Times. Then I remembered that I had a pair of back-up reading glasses in my purse. (I only wear them in emergencies. I hate them. I hadn’t realized when I bought them that they had “wings” on the sides…) “I’ve got an extra pair of glasses,” I said. “Want to borrow them?” “Oh, that would be wonderful, thanks a lot!” she said. She put them on and looked pretty good in them, too. I glanced up at the woman sitting across from me, who’d watched the interchange. She smiled warmly at me. I smiled back. That was it. But here’s the thing: I wasn’t annoyed about the long wait anymore. I wasn’t annoyed about anything. Plus, I’m still smiling.

 

Jim (my husband) told me a story yesterday about walking along  Fifth Avenue with our dog, Willa, when he saw a woman walk up to a homeless man who was sitting on a bench holding a sign that read, “I’m hungry. Any food is welcome.” The woman handed him a paper bag. Jim watched as the man took out a bagel, an apple and a bottle of water. He smiled at the woman and said thank you. She smiled back. Jim caught her eye and smiled, too. “It was a really nice  moment.” he said. “I felt happy even ‘tho I hadn’t actually done anything but watch somebody else do something really nice…”

 

“We feel good when we help others,” says Dr. James Doty, a clinical professor of neurosurgery at Stanford and the director of something called “Project Compassion.” He calls it “helper’s high.” And, he also points out that doing nice things for other people – no matter how small – helps us have less stress and live longer. Plus, it’s contagious… 

 

Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor at the University of California at Riverside, and author of  The How of Happiness, conducted a “happiness” study among one hundred workers at The Coca-Cola Company. She designated a certain number of them as “givers” and asked them to perform regular, anonymous acts of kindness for three of their co-workers for sixteen weeks. Guess what? Everybody got happier - both the “givers” and the “receivers” – and the whole thing went viral! Generosity and happiness spread throughout Coca Cola’s workplace and “infected” employees who weren’t even a part of the study – including their friends and families. Pretty good, huh?

 

So look, it’s time for us to get happy,  isn’t it? And why make it hard when we can make it easy?? Let’s conduct our own “study.” Let’s decide to do one really nice thing for somebody every single day this week. (No, not the same person: “Hello, Mom? It’s me again…” A  different  person!)   And I’m not talking about returning a favor or doing one for someone who can do one for you. No, t his is just a plain and simple commitment to making a small difference in some other person’s life every day for seven days. It won’t be hard. Maybe it’s just a phone call to let someone know how terrific we think they are. Or we help someone we don’t even know haul their groceries out of their car. Or we do what someone I read about did recently: She invited an “umbrella-less” stranger to join her under her giant golf umbrella when they were both standing on a corner, waiting for a bus…in a torrential downpour. (She said that day turned out to be one of the best she’d had in weeks.) Or maybe we just smile and nod at someone who could use it…

 

And what about getting friends or family members to do it with us? Make it fun. (The kids will  love it.) And trade stories online.  Imagine the positive energy we’ll generate! Energy that will just keep building as the days go by.

 

What a wonderful week we’re going to have! C’mon, get happy…

 

Louis  Armstrong probably said it best. Take a listen…     

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkTLIO2zanM

 

Share your “Do one really nice thing” stories” below…

 

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