Is It Nice To Be Nice To Others?

Writing

Living in a city, living on top of each other, I think it’s easy to get impatient and somewhat claustrophobic. Carrying out my own little experiment in the last couple of months has brought with it some striking revelations. 

I wanted to test the waters – does being nice to people make them nicer to you? 

So to test this, I carried out the following experiments, firstly I would be ‘impatient’ with people, not overtly rude, but instead show my disapproval to something I found they were doing annoying. Then following on from this, for the remaining weeks I would put effort in to be nicer than necessary e.g. smiling at a stranger in the park, asking an eldelry person if they needed help carrying their groceries and so on….. 

This is how it unfolded:

The Supermarket Face Smasher

If you read my post on pet peeves then you’ll know my utmost deteste for queue jumpers, almost as much as I hate when someone shoulder barge me to get out of the queue.  Lining up at the self-checkout a random woman decides she no longer wants to be in the queue, which is fine (I thought). She proceeds to try and exit the queue through the most awkward of routes, squeezing passed everyman man, woman and child still in the queue instead of just going through the self checkouts. As she passes me in the queue she almost knocks me flying.

This is where I have a decision to stfu or say something, as it’s the mean experimental month I utter ‘you could’ve said excuse me’, she then says ‘excuse me’ in an aggressive tone to which I repeat ‘you could’ve said excuse me’ her next comment was ‘I’ll smash your face in!’ Security de-escalated the issue pretty quickly but let’s just say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. She may have looked like your plain Jane but really probably is the kind of person who acts like their sh*t doesn’t stink and would quite happily lock their husband/wife up in the downstairs basement for not hoovering the floor by the time they got back from strangling their colleague at work. 

Note to experiment – don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Should I have said something? I think not!

Tut Tut Tut

Train etiquette for anyone with manners is – if you’re at the platform waiting for someone to get on then you wait until anyone exiting the train carriage has gotten OFF! Obviously some ignorant individuals didn’t get the memo because as I approached the exit doors of the train all I could see was this keen bean of an ignoramus prancing up onto the carriage just as the doors were opening, I try to step off but he basically baracades me in the carriage, I swerve passed him tutting as loud as a jet engine into his left ear, to which he responds with an inferior tut, I then wanted to have the last tut so I tut again, he then looks round at me as the train doors are closing, he, now inside the carriage and me on the platform tuts again, I watch the train pull off now unable to see him clearly as the windows are slightly blacked out but still stubborn I gave one final tut and walked off laughing at both of our pettiness. 

Tutting wars! I’m sorry but this guy was all self with – ‘I want on the train, I don’t care if I block you getting off, blah blah blah’ marked across his forehead.

Should I Have tutted? No (I should’ve fly-kicked him back out the train doors).

The list of petty squabbles goes on ashamedly, but all for the name of science!

Fast forward a few weeks later and the mother Therea in me makes an appearance in full force, I’m rescuing kittens from trees, stopping crime in its tracks, helping old ladies cross roads. Ok maybe not this far but I did try and go out of my way to be nicer than what would be accepted as normal, and in the process got a few weird looks but also a few genuine smiles. Let me tell you why:

It’s In The Eyes

For the most part we go through life minding our own business, especially when walking down streets. Here, it can sometimes feel like the pavement is a magnet for our eyes in order for us to avoid the awkward eye contact with a passerby. I wanted to see if I could break this  internal awkwardness and see if I could instead show eye contact to a total stranger alongside a polite smile to see if it could be reciprocated. 

The success rate was surprisingly promising, not that I walked around in public like a grinning cheshire cat, I chose my targets wisely and pleasantly enough us city dwellers are warm when given the chance. 

Note: The acknowledgment of someone else’s existence should be encouraged more! 

Volunteering

My previous post outlines my recent volunteering experience, but to be clear I didn’t choose to volunteer for an experiment it was for much deeper personal reasons I may share in the future. But nevertheless it really emphasises that doing good for others in return can make you feel better about yourself. 

Note: Help others and you help yourself.

Conclusion

I carried out minor behaviors to see if it changed my external environment, if it changed people’s interactions with me, and in conclusion I believe it did.

Does being nice to people mean they’ll be nice to you? Not all the time, but I definitely think it does for the majority of time. 

I’m not saying you should change how you act just to get people to like you but I think on a minor level, simply being aware of your behaviour in more settings will help both you and the people around you. This is what I have found in my own experience, it is nice to be nice to people. And that most people are nice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Evening Lit By Candlelight

Writing

It’s been a hot minute (I hate that term) since I’ve written anything mildly conducive to that of an Individual with half a brain cell..

I don’t know why but lately I’ve found it difficult being organised, finding time to post anything. I’ve found it difficult feeling fulfilled. So much so that I’ve perhaps exchanged the time dedicated to blogging to doing ‘other things ‘ which may have promise of filling this void of unfulfillment.

So last week I told myself I would try some new things. But one thing I didn’t expect to do was

Grieve. In public.

A friend of mine lost her father earlier this year and invited me to attend a grieving event in London the Sunday just passed. I can’t deny that I was apprehensive to attend. I thought grief was an emotion shown only to your closest of family members, not strangers seated before a candlelit table, but as the experience taught me, sometimes strangers can offer a support of their own in a profound way.

Ofcourse hindsight is a beautiful thing, because prior to the event I was truly afraid incase it would leave me with an overbearing feeling of sadness. A selfish thing to say, I know. But there’s a reason why grieving events aren’t as popular as club nights, I’m sure we can all agree on this. At the same time I was fearful that I may not connect enough, and show a lacking depth of emotion.

Regardless of my internally antagonistic thoughts which churned almost as aggressively as the butterflies in my queasy stomach, I attended.

On arrival I had anticipated an event somewhat structured like that of an alcoholics anonymous session, yet it was far from that. Held in a room not big enough to swing a cat in, attached by a tiny corridor to the rest of the building which took the form of a boisterously bustling bar. Quite a dissimilar fit I thought as I was greeted at the door of this tiny corridor by the friendly faced event organiser. 

 

Entering the room as a latecomer, my friend and I sat in the remaining two chairs at a table already occupied by eight. All women, no men. Which was something quite resonating and sad in itself. I took a seat and looked around at the faces, and was met with a mixture of emotions, from sadness to restraint.

We took it in turn sharing stories of the people close to us who we had lost, I found it a bit too much at times to be honest. Without delving too deep, witnessing the tellings of stories of battles with long term illnesses and overdoses was a sobering experience. Sitting in this little room lit by candlelight, the soft glow emphasising the pained expressions of the women in attendance. The atmosphere was vulnerable and heavy and raw.

I came away from the evening thinking of how we all live in our own little bubbles and sometimes think that we are the only ones going through troubles, that dark times just aren’t as dark for others as they are for us. But that Sunday evening proved to me that this just isn’t the case. 

I’m not saying that it’s a good thing that you or I are not the only ones suffering in the world but what I am saying is that there’s a relatability and with this comes shared understanding and support if needed. If you are facing a challenging time in your life, chances are someone else is too. And what we find is talking outward about an issue is always healthier than internalizing it. 

I thought I would come out of the grieving event on a low and I did temporarily due to the nature of the event but on the whole I came away taking with me a sense that everyone has ups and downs in life and that support is there for you. You really aren’t alone. 

 

 

 

 

Why Are We So Ungrateful?

Writing

If you can read this right now then you have the ability to see. Sight is one of the most valuable senses us humans can posses yet paradoxically it is one we take most for granted. Too busy complaining about our bosses thinking they’re better than us or stressing that we aren’t earning as much as our partners, we lose focus. Instead of moaning about somebody else to make yourself feel better can you not spend a second seeing the good you already possess? For your ability to speak, for your ability to cook, the list goes on. I write this post to share my thoughts on this point, this focus on ungratefulness has crept up on me several times. One example of which was just several days ago when I was walking to work in the morning, on route I passed a beautifully dressed young lady, she was wearing a maroon headband made of silk, a ruffled lemon blouse and bottle green cigarette trousers and she was using a white cane because she was blind.

 

As I passed her my negative thoughts of how bored I am living in the same flat to how annoying a colleague is at work suddenly meant nothing Instead I was stunned with the realisation that I had no reason to complain, because what I was complaining about was so petty. I had more important things to be thankful for thank things I had to complain about. I was going to work to use my skills, I had the ability to walk where other people may not be able to do this , I had the ability to see where others may not have the ability to do this. I must stress that this post is not me trying to compare myself to someone else and state that because they don’t have something and I do that I should feel good about that or better about myself. But instead I aim to highlight that we all have qualities in our lives which we overlook all too frequently, for example while we’re too busy chasing the next pay cheque we forget that we’re fortunate enough to have our health. Or whilst we complain that strangers are rude to us on our commutes we forget that we have a loving family at home. While we judge something critically in the shop window we forget that we have the ability to see the expressions of joy on others around us. To stop for a moment and be thankful of the most underrated elements of your life will surely enrich it?

 

I truly believe that the real answer to being happy is being grateful. To further support this opinion of mine, I need to look just at last week. As much as I enjoyed the Isle of Wight Festival , I must say camping was tough. Let’s be honest lying in a damp cloth cocoon in a bumpy field is a fast track way to insomnia I’ve no doubt about it.  But in some ways, anytime I go camping I’m thankful afterwards. And this time was no different, for on my return to London I couldn’t have had a bigger smile on my face as I jumped into my bed after a shower with actual hot water! A week prior to the festival and I treated a warm bed and a hot shower as expected, fast forward a week and I saw it as a luxury. My point being to feel good about things and about yourself perhaps it takes a moment to realise. Perhaps it takes a week camping for you to appreciate home comforts, atleast it did for me.

 

A tip I do sometimes actually, especially if I’ve had a bad day is list 5 things I’m grateful for that night before going to bed. It may not solve all of your problems but it certainly helps remove the storm cloud from above your head so you can sleep And who knows, maybe if you do it frequently enough you may be a happier person in the long run. I think so.