There I stand – on an underground train in London. The carriage is busy, but not packed. There’s no free seat, so I cling tightly to the central pole. A normal day for Sally you may think. Yes, bar one fact: I’m on crutches. There’s been another small accident (don’t ask)…
Today my journey was mixed. As I got on the tube, after one stop I was offered a seat with a smile. My heart leapt with grateful thanks. But when I changed trains, no-one got up. When I disembarked I was pushed. But then came a string of kind gestures – from opening doors to offering to carry my bag, not to mention the advice about ‘bone-repairing’ broths, as I purchased my take-out coffee. Kindness from strangers, and I felt my mood shift. A big heartfelt thank you to everyone who offered me help.
So what do I remember when I think of my journey? The positive or the bad? I’ve mentioned before the work of neuroscientist Professor Elaine Fox. Her research has found that by making an effort to think and act more positively, our brains can actually be re-wired. So if I focus on the good things and recall the positive, it’s likely I’ll feel better (and this certainly has rung true).
“The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.” William James.
But what about the effect on others? This morning, the first person I chatted to I told them my woes: my frustrations at London, my dislike of the tube, I re-counted the multiple times I have fallen over in our capital city and people have walked over me, and of course capped it off with my fellow passengers’ lack-of-crutches-consideration! Half an hour later, we longed for our grandparents’ age when manners were different, and men opened the car door. As I left my friend looked dejected. (And I felt despairing).
My next encounter I approached differently. ‘Why was I on crutches? ‘, the sad-looking assistant asked me. ‘Well let me tell you’, I said, and then giggled my way through not only the accident (by the way I simply walked into my bed!), and talked about of all of the wonderful people who had shown me kindness since. ‘And, let me tell you, it’s important to get those bones from the local butcher if you’re going to make that healing broth!’ I departed leaving the young lady in completely different spirits. ‘Thank you for brightening my day’, she said. I had seen her mood visibly shift.
So I guess the moral of the story is obvious: positive focus lifts not only us, but those around us too. More often than not, smiling leads to a smile back. Loving leads to love. Laughter leads to more laughter and focusing on the positivity of your day lifts those around you too.
And the final moral of the story is: avoid walking into the leg of your bed!