20 December 2013

Have a Happy Day

Over the past couple of months we’ve had our own little mayoral problem here in Auckland. Internationally it hasn’t caught on, unlike the Toronto mayor, but it has kept the local papers busy.

The reason I mention it here is that on my way to work I saw the headline that it was a big decision day for the mayor and whether he would keep his job. I scanned the headline as I walked past and then continued thinking about work concerns (well I was on my way there), and the other personal and writing thoughts pushing through.

In our lives there are days we will never forget. Some of them are planned and anticipated such as a wedding, a milestone birthday or anniversary, or the birth of a child. Others happen when we least expect it: meeting someone who will have a big impact on our life, illness or the death of someone close. Those particular days, whether happy or heart-breaking, are momentous, but they are only momentous to us, and possibly to a few other people we know. Even hearing of the death of a favourite actor or famous person is unlikely to have the same effect on us.

For most of the time we’re unaware of these momentous occasions in other people’s lives. The people walking along the street around you may be bubbling with excitement and anticipation over an upcoming event, or in the depths of misery over the loss of someone close or an illness or health diagnosis.

I recall being very aware of this a few years ago when my father died unexpectedly, and instead of going to work that morning I found myself flying back to England. I looked around at the other people on the plane and wondered about their reasons for travel: holiday, business, family or some occasion not so happy.

We don’t know what’s going on in the life of others so why not give them a break if someone reacts unexpectedly or unpleasantly to us. Sure they may just be grumpy and rude all the time, but that’s their problem. However, they may be going through the worst day of their life.

I know it’s a cliché for this time of year, but by treating other people kindly we never know the effect it may have on them.

I still remember the unexpected pleasure and boost of happiness I had when a stranger smiled at me and wished me a ‘Happy Friday’ on the way to work one day.

If nothing else it will make you feel good.

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