Less about you, more about others

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“The checkout operator at Zara had such beautiful hair!” I said in a conversation with my husband after my day-long shopping on Black Friday. “Her hair was so long and full, I couldn’t stop staring at it.” I continued. “That’s nice” he responded. “Did you tell her?” he proceeded to ask. “Tell her what?” “Well, how beautiful her hair is”. I was taken aback for a moment. There was no explanation for why I should have, but even more importantly, I couldn’t put up a good defence for why I didn’t.

Whenever I wear neat braids, I get numerous compliments about my hair and not once has any of these comments failed to put a smile on my face. There have been times when those compliments even seemed like sunshine on a cloudy day so I know for a fact how important simple words like “your hair is lovely” could be. And yet, there I was, with the ‘power’ to at least put a smile on the face of someone else with a genuine compliment and somehow, I found it much more convenient to save the topic for a dinner conversation.

Most of us are often too consumed with our own cares to squeeze in small, cheerful conversations with total strangers. After all, whatever can we gain from one-minute interactions with people we might never see again?

As I read “How to stop worrying and start living” by Dale Carnegie this month, I’m learning that one of the recipes for fighting anxiety is shifting our focus from ourselves to others. If every day, we go about thinking of how we can put a smile on the face of someone else, we can catch a break from our own worrisome thoughts and slowly begin to find fulfilment in serving others.

In Dale’s exact words, forget yourself by becoming interested in others. It’s a relatively easy experiment and in the worst-case scenario, you’ll get a warm smile or a ‘thank you’. But in the best-case scenario, you’ll get enough dopamine from spreading joy, that it will be practically impossible for you to sustain a bad mood.

What a world this planet would become if everyone’s priority is to make others happy!

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