I’m not pleased to admit that I made a sticky handful of distressed, frustrated, angry phone calls last week. The first call was cut off mid-way through solving the problem of my cancelled accommodation reservation. I took a deep breath, harnessed some irritated perseverance (fueled by too much coffee and not enough sleep, I’m sure) and called again. I was a not ANY less irate.
That second call was cut-off midway through. (eeeerrrg.)
I took a breath, and called again, deciding I could be tiny bit nicer to Service Rep #3. Still not my best, compassionate self. (Definitely still rude. But one step nicer than terrifying.)
The next day, another technology crisis occurred and I was back on the phone with some poor Customer Service Sap. As I was dialing, I thought, this poor guy picking up the phone from his cubicle in East Jesus Nowhere has no idea that I spent all day yesterday in frustrated negations with customer service representatives; I should try to be compassionate and reasonable.
And I REMEMBERED: Yesterday, I spoke calmly and compassionately to at least one person. I’m a calm, compassionate person. I can do this.
Just by remembering ONE time when I acted compassionately in the past, I could posit myself as a compassionate person and make a change in my behavior that affected not only my happiness but also the emotional and mental health of the phone-guy from StartLogic.
A fascinating study done by Adam Grant by Wharton Business School showed that by simply remembering a time when you have acted generously and kindly in the past, you are more likely to immediately display more kind and generous behaviors.
Remembering an act of kindness creates a mental construct that I can then frame my physical behaviors around: if I remember even just one time when I acted kindly and compassionately, then I am a kind compassionate person.
This remembering made all the difference in my choices and reactionary behavior. Sure I still needed to go for a dog jog, get good and sweaty, send (more than) a few complaining texts to my Ironman (nothing says good for the marriage like United Against the Common Threat of AirBnB), but I was finally able to calm down, remember that I am ultimately a compassionate and kind person, and respond skillfully to a stressful situation instead of creating more angst in my life.
This week, boost your kindness and compassion. Right now, REMEMBER 3 times when you’ve acted compassionately in the past year. Write these instances down and tuck the reminder in your purse/wallet/lunchbox. If you find yourself in a sticky situation, remind yourself that you are indeed a compassionate person and you have a choice with your actions and words.
P.S. Also remember to register for the last Meditation to Stress-Relief Class of 2018: We’ll meet Sundays December 2, 9, and 16, from 2-4 pm at Westport Yoga KC in Kansas City, Missouri.