Monday, April 25, 2011

Be nice, or go to your room

A few years ago, it was popular to repost those "All I need to know, I learned in kindergarten"-type lists. I think it's just about that time again.

It's been a grouchy couple of weeks at work. And at the doctor's office. And in the grocery-store checkout line. And by "grouchy," I mean that an inordinate number of people are behaving in ways that would have gotten me sent to my room as a child to "think about the way you're behaving and come out when you're ready to be nice."

The cause? The weather, maybe. After all, the pre-spring blahs are no fun. Sure, we just celebrated a holiday, but there's no day off associated with it. And it's a long time till Memorial Day. Then there's the fact that we all have a ton of things to do, and not enough hours in the day to get them done. But still ...

Do people really think that treating others badly will do anything positive for them? I realize people don't often quote ex-spouses in blog posts, at least not in a non-nasty way, but my ex-husband often used to admonish my (occasional) snits with, "Remember that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." And he was right.

The way we treat others is often a reflection of something that's happening in our lives; I get that. But if I respond in a not-nice way to the guy in the cubicle across from me, that's not going to make me feel better, and it's sure not going to make him feel better. It's only going to ratchet up the tension of the day, and we all spend too much time at work to be miserable while we're there.

Not to mention: Yes, I make mistakes sometimes. Yes, I lose things. Yes, I occasionally fire off an e-mail without thinking about the fact that it's going to make me sound sanctimonious as all get-out. But guess what, hypothetical co-worker or neighbor or nurse in my doctor's office or tax accountant? Chances are you do those things, too. And I can't think of the last time I was snotty to someone for making an honest mistake.

Little Mary Sunshine, I'm not. But really, folks -- does it take that much effort to issue a pleasant greeting and a smile when you start your day? (About as much extra effort, I think, as it takes to type 'y-o-u' instead of 'u' while text messaging. But I digress.) Clerk at McDonald's, when I stop for my morning caffeine, that means you. Thank me when I give you my money -- the same way I thank you when you give me my Coke.

I'm simply tired of the grouchiness. So in a meager effort to combat it, I'm reposting -- yes -- "All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten" by Robert Fulghum. Read it, then go be nice to someone. I dare you. And if you don't want to: Please, just stay in your room.
  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don't hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don't take things that aren't yours.
  • Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life -- learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup -- they all die. So do we. (You've heard the saying: 100 years from now, all new people.)
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned -- the biggest word of all: LOOK.

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