Helping others is guaranteed to blossom in my heart. Countless times I’ve gone work tired or grumpy or out-of-sorts in one way or another and after giving someone a massage, I felt uplifted. Usually it’s the “before and after” contrast in the client that does it; one short hour later and they’re feeling relaxed and experiencing less tension or pain than when we started. I hope I never stop appreciating that.
Last week I was travelling home after a long day at work. The train was 30 minutes late and crowded. So crowded we couldn’t even get in. The attendant kept saying “move back”, but there was nowhere to go and the people who had space to move back into couldn’t hear him. It was frustrating and uncomfortable and it didn’t seem like there was an end in sight. Of course this slowed things down terribly and we were even later getting to the station.
I was in quite the mood by the time I finally got onto my connecting train and sat down. I overheard a conversation in front of me; four young people wondering if they were on the right train. I decided to be a good Samaritan and asked where they wanted to go. It took about two seconds for me to see they were NOT on the right train. I was able to help them sort out a new plan and send them on their way. I realized my mood had totally shifted; gone was the irritable, tired woman struggling to get home. Hello cheerful do-gooder, helper of naïve college students.
This incident was such a brilliant reminder of how acts of kindness, even small ones such as giving directions, can transform the course of a day. I’m sure I would have had a much more somber evening had I not chimed in to help. I had another opportunity yesterday while waiting for a bus. I had just pulled out my book when the man sitting next to me on the bench started a conversation. I went with the flow and had a nice chat with a stranger, who I’m guessing doesn’t have a lot of people to talk to. Again, I felt uplifted afterwards.
Living in a city it’s easy to find ways to be of service; holding doors, helping carry baby strollers up and down steps, giving up your seat on a crowded bus, putting a quarter in an expired parking meter, and smiling at people are all relatively easy tasks and don’t take much time. They’re also all great investments in feeling better about yourself. I’m all about getting involved in win-win situations, and being of assistance when you’re genuinely able to give without expecting a return reward can be a great reward on its own.