Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I like people.

This morning, RJ (and to be clear to those who don't know me in real life, RJ is one of my bffs, He is NOT my boyfriend, lover, child, or brother....although sometimes I do feel like he is my bastard child) said "I like people." I thought about it for a minute, and said, "That's it!"

It was actually quite an illuminating statement. How much easier would your life be if you decided to have that attitude? I can't count the number of times my friends or myself have uttered the statement- "I hate people." What a counter-intuitive way to approach the world. Are we really going to get very far with that sort of outlook? Now, I know there are annoying people out there. There are people that do awful things. But, in general, I think that people are innately good. They may be ignorant, but inside most people are good. I, for one, am going to be conscious of not letting myself slip into the "I hate people" mantra.

I firmly believe that when I am in the attitude of liking people, not only will I have a better time, brushing off the bad apples, but the path to the things I want is so much clearer and smoother.

As a counter point to the "I like people" morning, I observed a whole different sort of attitude this afternoon at my nail place. I have had a terrible headache, maybe migraine- jury is still out on that, all day, so I decided to treat myself to a pedicure. The nail place was pretty empty, only 2 other customers. We will call them Woman #1 and Woman #2.

Woman #1 was reading a magazine while her nails dried and Woman #2 got a phone call during her manicure. Because it was so empty, I overheard part of her conversation. She was talking someone through something, saying things like "It's really going to be okay, no matter what the outcome. You have to just put this morning behind you. Go take a walk and come back for the afternoon and do your best." I was not really paying attention, until Woman #1 suddenly turned and yelled "YOU ARE REALLY DISTURBING ME! I DON'T WANT TO HEAR YOUR CONVERSATION! PLEASE STOP TALKING ON THE PHONE!"

The woman on the phone, Woman #2, just looked at her and quietly finished up her conversation. When she was done, she turned to Woman #1 and said, "Excuse me, was I disturbing you? I'm so sorry. Woman #1 snapped back, "YES, I WAS VERY DISTURBED. I CAN'T STAND PEOPLE TALKING ON CELL PHONES. I DONT WANT TO HEAR YOUR CONVERSATION....BLAH BLAH BLAH."

Woman #2 interrupted her tirade, "Well, listen maybe you should think before you speak. My husband died 2 weeks ago, and our daughter is in the middle of taking the Bar exam. She's having a very difficult time with both her father's death and the bar. So maybe you should just get over yourself!!!"

Woman #1 was stunned into silence and left in a huff. After she left, the ladies who own/run the salon told me that she is always bitchy and looking for a fight. I told Woman #2 that she was not being obnoxious on her phone call and that other woman clearly was a miserable person. She was very grateful for the kind words and expressed what a hard time she is having holding it all together right now.

I would venture to guess that the bitchy woman doesn't stop to think about what other people might be going through. I would venture to guess that she does not live by an "I like people" mantra. Anyone who heard the phone call would know there was some sort of distressing situation going on, even without being privy to the backstory. Maybe she has her own trauma going on or maybe she is just not very nice.

The whole point of this rambling post is that I was reminded of something very important today- first by RJ and then by the nail salon incident. I like people. And liking people makes my life a whole lot easier. No matter what negativity I come across in my day, my attitude completely shapes how it affects me. My attitude can perpetuate more negativity to more people or it can diffuse it. I don't want to be the asshole yelling at a stranger. I am grateful that I know who I don't want to be.


Anonymous said...

I like people, I just don't like you.

brendan donnelly said...

hahaha how did i know anonymous would say a comment like this! i wonder if you even know this person erin.

cougs said...

thank you so much for this post!!!! i grapple with this philosophy constantly.
i have a friend who says life is all about the PMA - positive mental attitude and since the new year, i've been really trying to practice having one but some days it's so hard.
living in nyc doesn't help either. we're all in such a hurry and don't care who we knock down to get through the train doors first and snag a seat.
i bartend for a living at a small restaurant and some days i want to choke every one of my regulars. i feel like they are sucking the life out of me but the truth is.....they aren't....especially if i change my perspective.
we are all connected through energy, i truly believe that, so hating or resenting someone you're connected to (even in such a distant way) just produces more negative energy all around and that makes the world a less happy place.
i like the idea that if we all just worked a little bit harder at staying positive, not only would our personal lives be a little brighter, but so would our communities. really most of the folks out there are pretty good eggs and there are lots of little things that happen daily that make me smile.
oh no, i've let out too much of my closet inner hippie. i might have to burn some incense and chant.
then again maybe i should just get out of the customer service industry.
hope this makes sense - i'm terrible with punctuation.

bonnie said...

i'm a people liker too. unless i'm at disneyland, with you and jimmy. then i hate everyone else besides the power trio

erin said...

Anonymous, I like you anyway.

Brendan, if it is someone I don't know- then they are really crazy....how could you spend that much time hating on someone you don't know! It's not like I'm in public office or anything!

Cougs, I totally broke out the sage today!

Bonnie, you are definitely a people liker, which is part of why I love you.

Joy said...

I've been grappling with this lately. (I'm not one for Lenten - or other religious - obligations, but I decided to use this period of reflection to *try* to learn to be more forgiving of others, to see the good in people.)

There has to be a healthy place between the naive blind acceptance I once had and the bitter irritation I've known in my adult life.

My efforts to 'like people' again keep getting thwarted - whenever I go out in public... get behind the wheel... or turn on the radio... I find it easier to be empathetic when I'm in my own protective shell. Alas, I try again!

Emilia Wroe said...

my mentor shot that first pic. nice choice. he hates people. and loves them. but he definitely does not like people. sorry erin. do you like him?

Anonymous said...

I like you

Psyched and Such said...

I've always worked in customer servicy jobs because I like people too. But whenever I have to deal with someone who's being a bitch I just remember that I only have to spend 10mins with them they have to spend their whole lives with themselves. then I feel bad for them which makes it easier to be nice. I will however, politely call you out on being rude if you need it.

erin said...

Yup! I have to remind myself of that often.....that I am so happy that I'm not that ball of misery wandering around the world.