An experiment in reducing the negative energy in the world yields bonus results.
I’m intrigued by the concept of leaving a small “carbon” footprint to protect the environment from the impact of cars and factories. A few years back I decided to see if I could leave a small “negative” footprint behind by making at least one person happier or in better circumstances than I found them each day.
Many of us try to behave in a model way for kids, significant others or bosses. But what about others we encounter?
It is common to vent frustration and anger on anyone who unfortunately happens to be nearby when we lose our patience.
I didn’t know what to expect from this “leave them happier” experiment. I discovered it was actually straightforward to focus on connecting, smiling and creating camaraderie, even with complete strangers.
The grocery store seemed like a good place to start. At my store, the grocery bagger also rolls the grocery cart to your car and brings it back again. (The store leaves many customers happier than they arrived with this policy.) I took this as an opportunity to chat and see what was going on for them. I would often get either a young person in their first job or a retiree wanting extra income.
Quickly I expanded my experiment to include acquaintances, relatives, neighbors and complete strangers. Pretty soon everyone was fair game.
I discovered the bonus boomerang effect in making others happy. It was like interest paid on a bank account. Each encounter changed the way I was feeling in some way.
Here are 7 unanticipated results I discovered from spreading positivity:
1 Even smiling at someone immediately brightened not only his or her day but mine as well.
Bonus: I felt peaceful and emotionally connected.
2 I advised a homeless person to seek shelter since a storm had been predicted and prevented his difficult and possibly deadly encounter with nature.
Bonus: I felt relieved and grateful for my home and safety.
3 A neighbor who had fallen and felt unsteady when walking asked if I would help her get to a doctor’s appointment.
Bonus: I felt thankful for my good health and mobility.
4 I gave free coaching to a student in a class I was taking and confirmed that someone who complains would not be an “ideal client” for me.
Bonus: She had an opportunity to be heard and I felt confident marketing to people who were interested in results.
5 When my neighbor’s dog somehow got trapped on my driveway surrounded by 3-foot piles of snow I managed to herd her back to her house.
Bonus: I felt reassured their dog was now indoors, safe and warm.
6 I listened to a seatmate on a plane trip as she described her frustration about a relationship.
Bonus: I felt happy as she began to relax, breathe and recognize she was dealing with small issues.
7 I gave up a parking space for an elderly woman so she would have an easier time getting into a store.
Bonus: I felt good doing a kind deed. I also felt nostalgic since she reminded me of my mom and I like to think that someone else may well have done the same for my mom in a parking lot.
Often we are focused on our own lives and sometimes blinded to another’s experiences. There will always be a few radicals who go out of their way to spread misery but it is far more rewarding to go out of your way to do good.
When you look at your life, do you consciously leave a small negative “footprint” behind?