|me, today, standing on a still-frozen Loon Lake|
But what I've really been noticing is the number of people lately who just walk in front of your car (that you have stopped specifically for them), and never so much as put up a hand in thanks, or even notice that a nice person driving a car has stopped where it wasn't a crosswalk or there wasn't a stop sign, just to let them cross. Sometimes they are just too busy looking at their phones to have even noticed that you stopped for them (and their baby stroller, and kids in tow). But really, it doesn't take but a moment to wave an acknowledgement of thanks, and you might really make someone's day!
|my car on a summer day|
A post on another blog that I read today made me think today about something I did a few years ago, that relates to the common courtesy theme of this post. I had heard a story on public radio about a challenge to go 21 days without complaining. (Check out the specifics here: http://www.acomplaintfreeworld.org/.) For the challenge, you wear a little purple rubber bracelet, and every time you whine about something, or gossip, or complain, you move the bracelet to the opposite wrist. Often it takes a few months before someone can last 21 days without uttering a complaint, without moving thee bracelet. I don't remember how long it took me, but it was quite a while. My students helped me! In my classroom, where my rules were displayed, the students all knew the #1 rule was NO Whining! (The rule was not the result of the challenge. The rule had been there for much longer than that!) We talked about the alternatives to whining when something wasn't going right. The art room should a happy place and you can always find a solution when something doesn't go as planned. After all, stating a problem is not always a complaint; it's the way it is said and the attitude that is really important. Maya Angelou said:
“If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain.”This quote hung on my classroom door for a long time; I think it is perfect. But anyhow, about that complaining... The first change I made was in my mornings. I am a night-owl, so I was always in a hurry getting to school in the morning. And the parking lot situation was... um... a little challenging. I would get out of my car and complain that students were parking in the good spots instead of the student lot, that a car had cut me off getting into the lot, that the roads were icy, that I was parked too far from the school since I was carrying a bunch of stuff, etc. You get the idea. I started my day in a fit of negativity. So instead, knowing I didn't want to have to move my bracelet, I would give the custodian who directs the morning traffic a big smile, say good morning, and then say thank you to him (for making sure cars stopped so I could get across the crosswalk). Often when I did this, other teachers scurried by never even noticing he was there. The custodian always smiled back and told me to have a great day. By the time I got to my classroom I was still smiling, and my day was off to a terrific start.
In the few years since I completed the 21 day challenge, I know I have complained from time-to-time, but up until my retirement I never once started my school day without the good morning, the smile, and the thank you to the custodian. (Consequently, as I'm sure you would expect, the custodian would bend over backwards to help me whenever I needed a hand with something!) Yes, I slip from time to time; you've heard me complain occasionally on the blog, but in general, I have chosen to take a more proactive approach to problems and challenges. And while I don't wear the purple bracelet any more, it still sits proudly on my bathroom jewelry shelf where I see it every morning.
So, I thank YOU dear blog readers, for just being you! I'm so happy to have you stopping in from time to time!