“If people would just stop mistreating me and pissing me off, I would be so much happier. How should I handle it”? I had just been asked for this advice. I was stomped, not sure exactly how to reply. After all, who am I to tell someone how to handle this? I figured, through a series of questions, his responses would make him reflect and figure it out on his own. But first, I really needed a coffee for this conversation…
That day, we both witnessed something that completely transformed him and enriched me.
We sat in the bakery, enjoying a fresh cannoli with a cappuccino as he continued to vent. At a certain point, a man started yelling at the woman behind the counter for having misspelled his daughter’s name on the birthday cake. Banging on the counter and completely mistreating her. The woman calmly apologized and offered to correct the spelling on a new cake. The man said he would be back in twenty minutes to pick it up.
A young teenage girl came out from the back. “How could you let him treat you like that? Why didn’t you tell him to leave with no cake? Who does he think he is?”
The woman smiled at her and said “this man obviously just finished working. His boss probably yelled at him, maybe he didn’t get a promotion. He was letting out frustration, it had nothing to do with me personally. Better that it happened here then when he goes home to his wife and kids. We have just been given an opportunity to brighten up his day, so that he will go home happy and enjoy his daughter’s birthday.”
When he got back, the woman apologized again, “take it, my birthday gift for your daughter. Here are six fresh cannolis, I heard that you like them.”
The man looked at her, put his down, smiled and said, “I had a really tough day. Thank You.”
The answer had been revealed to both of us: Through compassion, we achieve happiness and confidence!
3 tips I learned through this woman’s compassion that will build your confidence and make you happier.
Put Yourself in the Other Person’s Shoes
We have all at some point referred to this expression. But, what does it really mean? The woman visualized the type of day the man went through that made him react the way he did. In other words, she pictured what it was like to be in HIS shoes, not how SHE would have reacted in his shoes. See the difference? The next time someone mistreats you or makes you feel disrespected, try to do not put yourself in their shoes by picturing how YOU would react in a similar situation. Instead, picture the person’s background. What is a typical day for them? Who is their boss? What state of mind are they in? It is true that we all have life struggles, however, we do not all have the same backgrounds, knowledge and experiences. Remember, what may seem as a personal attack, is only a facade of a deeper issue like fear or need for acceptance. Once you are able to do this, you will begin to feel compassion and respond with kindness. Slowly, negative emotions of anger, frustration or hurt will be replaced with happiness.
Everything Has a Purpose
That’s right, even when we have been mistreated. Try telling yourself, “it is an opportunity to bring out the best in me and grow from it.” We are offered this opportunity in our daily lives. Colleagues at work try to discredit your abilities, family members judging your parenting skills. These situations are all opportunities to strengthen ourselves and make a difference by extending kindness. It’s like physical training. When you first start working out, it is painful. At some point, your muscles get stronger and you no longer feel pain. If you maintain the same program, your muscles will adapt and remain stagnant. By increasing the weights and changing your program, you will continue to gain strength and feel happier. So, next time you are mistreated or don’t get that promotion, tell yourself, “this is the universe adding more weights for me to keep getting stronger, confident and feel happier.” The universe is telling you, “you are GOOD, but, you can be BETTER.”
Treat Others as Important
As human beings, we all have the need to feel important. The woman did not try to justify her importance by treating the man with contempt in return. The more you treat others as important with kindness and compassion, slowly, they will transform. Others will treat you as important. Take an interest in others, even those who mistreat you. Ask them for their valuable input, make them feel that you understand their having a bad day. This one is a tough one, I know! Here’s a trick: Think about the last time you were so caught up in certain situation that without noticing it, you mistreated someone with your words or actions. We all have done this. I know I have! Staying angry, frustrated and seeking revenge is so much more draining and sabotaging to yourself. Treat others as important and feel your confidence get stronger and soon you will discover a side to these people you never thought possible. See how important you really are!
The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes. -Dalai Lama
Cultivating compassion in our daily lives takes practice. Eventually, it gets easier and above all, will bring you happiness and will make tackling almost all life’s problems MUCH easier. What do you say? Are you ready to begin practicing? Do you have experience and other lessons in compassion? Share them, we can all benefit from them (especially me).