I enjoy including interesting quotes when writing my blogs and even sometimes in my books. So I’m always looking for new ones to add. Many times I find the quotes inspirational, sometimes funny and often motivating. While I love to include comments from famous world leaders, educators and even fellow authors—I’ve rarely included any quotes offered by actors. Not that I intentionally rule them out—it’s just been that way… until today.
“It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”
What famous human being uttered those profound words, you ask. It may surprise you to learn that the insightful thoughts were offered up by none other than Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock. He said them while celebrating his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last week. When asked what the recognition meant to him, he shared that it was all about family…about working hard and surrounding himself with good hard-working people…about the happiness he found in always sharing his gratitude for his friends, family and for his professional success.
His words struck me and I decided to try to put them into action. I thought—I should be more like him. It’s not that hard—after all, I can be a nicer personcan’t I? But man, during this crazy holiday season, it turned out to be a lot harder to do than I had expected.
Whether I was interacting with a cranky postal worker, a harried sales clerk or a nasty fast food server – I challenged myself to try and remember The Rock’s words…”it’s important to be nice”. It was exhausting at first and at times I had to grit my teeth and force a smile on my face. It would have been so easy to give up and succumb to my feelings of frustration and fatigue.
But once I got started, I have to tell you that I found that the tides quickly turned when I took the time to offer a kind word of understanding or gratitude when confronted with an unpleasant individual. I’m not sure if my smile and nice words embarrassed others into change or made them just stop a moment to think about how they were acting—but more than once I heard surprise, relief, and far nicer words offered back to me in place of anything negative. And it felt pretty good and rather empowering to project niceness in place of nastiness.
Thanking the grumpy postal worker for her hard work during these busy days caught her totally off guard. She actually stopped, looked me in the eye, and touched my arm as she smiled and thanked me for noticing and wished me a Merry Christmas too! I admit that I had a little more of a struggle with the store clerk who rang my sale up wrong not once, but twice. Yes, I really did want to choke her until I noticed her eyes filling with tears as she looked at the long line of unhappy folks waiting behind me. I turned around and faced the formidable crowd, smiled and said, Ain’t Christmas great! I’m sure that a few of them wanted to kill me right there, but it seemed to give the kid behind the counter enough time to figure out her mistake and to actually ring up my order correctly. I left wishing her a Merry Christmas and she sighed a thank you and squared her shoulders ready to take on the next customer with a smile on her face.
It hasn’t been easy and I haven’t been always been successful. More than once I’ve had to choose to swallow a comment with a smile rather than announce what a craptacular job I thought someone was doing. I’m glad that I happened to hear The Rock the other day and I actually appreciate the challenge he unknowingly sent my way. It’s been tough to say the least, but I’m going to keep trying to be nice…because it’s important!
Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!
When I was young, I lived in western Massachusetts. To earn money for a new bike, I picked blueberries at the large blueberry farm in our town. The owner, Blueberry Joe!, let me pick every day that I could get there as it was miles away, and it became something wonderful for me in those years before I turned sixteen and could get a real job. It took a very long time until I could make enough money for my bike, but the fault was mine as I ate more berries than I picked for sale.
I think the love of all berries, but especially blueberries, has stayed with me all these years. I have bushes of my own now in the field, and it is yet another one of the miracles of nature for me. We are having many bees pollinating this year, so the crop should be a good one. My uncle had bee hives in his back yard so I was able to watch the process of beekeeping and the honey that I still love.
As a child, I loved listening to the bees, and watching them fly free. At times, they were not even looking for a flower and it seemed to me that they were flying just for the feel of it. The wind on their body, the noise of the humming, the high-pitched zzzzzzzzz, all turning my heart into a love of mixed emotions much like the walls of honey-combs in my uncle’s white bee hives.
Lilacs are one of my favorite spring fragrances. I love to stop by a bush and inhale my deepest breath, wishing it would last all year round. Its time is short for flowers so one must do this as often as possible. My other favorite is viburnum. Mix these two together in a bouquet, and you almost cannot take the powerful aroma it gives. I then carry it forever in my mind, and I think the flowers know that.
Flowers are akin to kindness my heart says. If I didn’t have them now in my life a part of me would dissolve, I fear, and all I counted on for spring might be lost. For it is kindness that makes the most sense anymore, and it follows me like a shadow once I recognize that piece. It is tender and yet unbearable if you don’t receive it.
Like the sprout that is hidden within the seed, all of us struggle in our life to be seen and heard, and listened to. If we have this kindness in our life our sense of failure fades away, and we again trust ourselves to see things as we perceive them to be…and then rest.
Sally Paradysz writes from a book-lined cabin in the woods beside the home she built from scratch. She is an ordained minister of the Assembly of the Word, founded in 1975. For two decades, she has provided spiritual counseling and ministerial assistance. Sally has completed undergraduate and graduate courses in business and journalism. She took courses at NOVA, and served as a hotline, hospital, and police interview volunteer in Bucks County, PA. She is definitely owned by her two Maine Coon cats, Kiva and Kodi.
Read more about Sally’s life in her memoir FROM SCRATCH; available in paperback and ebook.
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