Right now we are in the swing of the holiday season. With all of the cheer, joy, and celebrations also comes a host of stress and frustrations. At this time of year I am reminded how easy it can be to forget that it feels better to have a kind and loving heart than it does feeling frustrated and judgmental. As our world speeds up and personal interaction becomes more detached, we can forget that we are dealing with human beings with their own set of hopes, problems, and feelings.
When I was growing up, I lived in a small town where holiday shopping involved going to the local stores where we knew everyone who was there shopping and working behind the counter. With close personal interaction it is easy to be empathetic and understanding about delays. When you know people on a more intimate level you think twice before acting in a way that is unkind and you can override your frustration with compassion.
Shopping for many of us now means that we go to a store where we do not know anyone. It can feel like it’s us against them. All of a sudden curtesy starts to laps as you race for the parking spot and curse under your breath at the “idiot” who is walking in the middle of the road loaded down with junk. Perhaps you forget to smile and hold the door open for the elderly woman behind you as you stare at your list trying to figure out what on earth you can get for Aunt Linda who you haven’t even spoken to since last December. Would treat your child’s third grade teacher that way?
Kindness flees even faster when we call customer support and reach someone who seems to be in a far off land completely out of touch with our frustrations and problems. How many times have you heard, or said, some take on, “I got stuck on the phone with some idiot in India who doesn’t even speak English”? Is it so easy to forget that they are people just like you and I? Would it be possible to acknowledge that they are also frustrated and send them wishes for peace and joy instead of condemnation and contempt?
This holiday season maybe you even experience the most disconnected type of communication yet – the chat box. That contraption really makes it easy to demand instant responses that are to our liking. How easy is it to SNAP at those poor people? They hardly seem real at all. It takes conscious effort to remember that they, too, have to get off work and face all of those “idiots” at the mall to buy presents for their annoying Auntie. They are just as stressed as you, so try being kind and compassionate instead of telling them where they can stick their chat box.
As you navigate this season of merry making, remember to stop every now and then, take a breath, and be grateful for everything you have. Slow down and look people in the eye. Take a pause and delete your rant in the chat box and replace it with understanding. Remember the spirit which is intended at this time of year and nurture your kind and loving heart.