Go Ahead. Make My Day.

When others don’t play by the Golden Rule, I positively pay-it-forward.

The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” I’m pretty sure we learned this in kindergarten. Simpler terms: Would you want to be treated the way you’re treating another?

I’m not talking about a curator’s commentary,  peer critique, commissioner’s disappointment; I set that aside knowing art is subjective. Obviously, I didn’t tap into that one person’s “vision.”

However, sometimes there’s purposeful pain from another person. Just downright meanness. Hateful words online, getting flipped off by a road raged driver, someone bites your head off. I used to allow the hostility dissolve my entire day. I would attempt distraction.

I would try to distract my thoughts:

  • I would listen to upbeat music. My go-to is usually some bouncy Motown, like the Temptations. If I can’t cheer myself up with Motown—and I’m still on the cusp of bawling— then I head right for Led Zeppelin. Palate cleansing music.
  • When my crushed spirit wants me to replay that crappy moment, I’ve trained my brain to yell “NO!” at my heart. These are the times it’s good to not listen to your (Sorry, Roxette.)
  • Relish in—I call it “rolling around with”—those who love me. Lean on your mate, have coffee with your best friend or call your Mom. Someone who invests in you will usually distract your mind.

I still do those things, but now, I’ve combined my positively pay-it-forward initiative. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because I can’t stick to self-imposed lifestyle shifts. I’m a gypsy soul. I would rather be in-studio painting than running on a treadmill. But this year, I attempted an idea that wasn’t strenuous or unattainable.

My resolution is this: When “the meanies” in this world hurt your feelings, you turn it around to two (or more) people. Are you thinking, “…that doesn’t sound like the Golden Rule!” Well, it really is the Golden Rule. Hang with me here:

When someone hurts, upsets, yells, defriends, cuts you off in traffic or is just an everyday jackass, hijack your feelings back! Don’t wait for someone to turn your frown upside-down for you. Do something thoughtful for two (or more!) persons. One person represents the repair you need (although you may never experience the apology you deserve.) The second person represents the Golden Rule, or how you want others to treat you. Here’re a few suggestions:

  • A handwritten note is the easiest and costs you less than a half-dollar. I send a lot of post. Writing a decent note and sending through the US post service is becoming a dying art form, honestly. But I can tell you that there is nothing like being on the receiving end of that card. I like to send memories to my friends via post. “Remember that time we dressed in togas in high school and you tried to give me a swirly?! Remind me why the hell you were wearing a Friday, the 13th goalie mask?” kind of memories. (Love you, Jen.) You know that person put some thought, time, energy into attempting to make you smile.
  • A phone call to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Imagine the surprising happiness on the other end of the phone.
  • A small gift could turn around another’s day. Maybe you place your co-worker’s favorite candy bar or his or her desk. Perhaps you call up a mentor you’ve meant to thank for quite some time and offer to take him or her to lunch. I don’t believe you have to spend money to make-up for your hurt feelings, but sometimes an invitation to lunch is exactly what is needed to get that friend to sit down with you.
  • Send a text to a few friends will always help. So you’re a millennial, and you have no idea what post Go through your phone. Pick out a couple folks and tell them how blessed you are that you’ve been friends for years. Send your dad an unexpected “I love you, Dad. Just wanted you to know.” Or send an invitation to that one person who makes you split your gut, “Girl, we need to get together soon so you can make me laugh. I need your smile.”

Compliment someone’s new haircut, high-five a co-worker,  play Frisbee with your dog—or the neighbor’s dog, buy a bag of wrapped candy and sprinkle it around the office, send balloons for to your kid to school, grab a $5 gift card and send it to someone, take soup to your elderly neighbors, make a simple craft like a bookmark with a motivational saying for the bookworm in your life, tell someone to keep the change, buy a cup of coffee for a stranger… Bottom line: Make someone smile. 

Let me share my favorite positively paid-forward experience: I was waiting in line at the grocery checkout, and a little boy in front of me kept picking up candy bars. He wasn’t doing anything but holding them for a bit, and putting them back. He was completely quiet, not a spoiled monster screaming for the candy. His frazzled momma was attempting to load her groceries onto the conveyor belt and settle a toddler at the same time. I opened my billfold and handed the little guy two dollars. Of course, he didn’t take my money. His good momma had taught him better, but as I squatted down to speak with him, she had turned around to make sure her son was ok. This mom looked at me as if I was insane. (I’m glad no one yelled “STRANGER DANGER!”) I finally said to her, “I’d like to buy him a candy bar if it’s ok with you. I’ve had a rough day and could use a kid’s smile.” I got three smiles that day: the cashier, the mom, and the little boy. I have no idea what ruined my day, but I can tell you what made my day.

If you apply this positively pay-it-forward initiative to your life, I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below or email me info(at)lynettewhitesell.com.