I believe in the basic good of people
The daily news is filled with stories about people misbehaving, being self-centered, and hurting each other. It sells. Probably because reading and watching something negative subconsciously makes us feel better about our own lives.
The power of negativity bias is strong. Research shows the negative stuff draws our attention more than good stuff. This bias towards negativity isn’t just because we live in cynical times; it’s actually something handed down to us from our early ancestors who knew being alert for negative things – things that might harm them – was the difference between life and death.
In today’s world, our brains naturally give priority to negative input over positive input. But once you are aware of that inclination, you can choose to counter it.
I choose to see the good in people
I believe people, in general, would rather help than hurt. Of course, there are exceptions, so I don’t run blindly into situations or conversations. However, I try to assume good intentions first.
The stories I’m drawn to in the news are the ones about kindness and strangers helping each other. Those stories renew my faith in people.
Strangers recently made a huge difference in my life
I was traveling internationally early this month to attend a retreat and lead two workshops. It was the week of the crazy ice storms in the DFW area, and it was touch and go for a few days leading up to my early morning flight. But the flight wasn’t cancelled so I scheduled a ride to the airport with a car service and off I went at 4:00 am one morning.
There was still a lot of ice on the road and I was fortunate to have an excellent driver. He was also friendly and interesting, so we chatted amicably during the 40 minute ride.
He dropped me off, I waved goodbye, walked about 30 steps and realized I left my phone in the car. In all the years I’ve traveled for work and fun, this was a first for me. A cold form of panic set in – I was traveling alone and definitely needed my phone to connect with people at the retreat.
I approached a young lady walking by, explained my situation and asked if I could use her phone to text my husband so he could contact the driver. She graciously said “ok”. Then we waited. After 5 minutes, there was no response and she needed to get going. She wished me luck and moved on.
I found a spot to sit and pulled out my laptop to attempt to connect with someone via email. A very nice couple sat down nearby and said hello. I used the opening to tell them what was going on and they volunteered their phones for me to try connecting with my husband again. This time I got through and he was able to contact the driver. The couple stayed with me and chatted while I coordinated the phone delivery with my husband.
While this was going on, the first young lady dropped out of the security line to find me and tell me my husband had responded to the text on her phone. When she heard I had made contact another way she smiled, said, “Great!” and ran back to her group in line to continue on her journey.
The driver returned about 30 minutes after he had dropped me off and handed me my phone with a smile.
The couple waited to ensure I had my phone and then they headed for their flight.
Acts of kindness matter
The driver, the young lady, and the couple all had their own agendas at 5:00 am that morning. Yet they interrupted their activities to help a stranger.
They didn’t ask about my politics or beliefs. They just helped. And when I expressed my gratitude, they each downplayed their efforts with a response of “No problem. Safe travels.”
I smiled for the rest of that trip. Truth be told, I smile a lot anyway, but it was more meaningful in some way having just experienced the kindness of strangers.
Play it forward
I’m sharing this story with you today because the experience reminded me that small gestures of kindness to others really do make a difference. They are just as impactful when you give them as when you receive them. A smile, a thank you, opening a door, helping someone reach an item at the store… they all matter.
So, just in case you are feeling a bit cynical about the world, please remember that the news doesn’t often tell us about the inherent goodness in people, but your everyday life sure can.
Until next time, celebrate your strengths, look for kindness, and laugh a little everyday!
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About Lynda-Ross Vega
Lynda-Ross Vega is a partner at Vega Behavioral Consulting, Ltd. She specializes in helping corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, and individuals with interpersonal communications, team dynamics, personal development, and navigating change. Lynda-Ross is co-creator of Perceptual Style Theory, a revolutionary behavioral psychology theory and assessment system that teaches people how to unleash their natural strengths and build the life and career they dream of. For free information on how to succeed in business and in life doing more of what you do best, visit https://www.YourTalentAdvantage.com.
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