A Bigger Person

As we inch our way back to a new normal we will find ourselves in public settings again with others. We will be able to look up from our screens and see friends and strangers eye to eye, but more than that, we have the opportunity to let go of our inner Karen and let go to our higher selves. We have the chance to show the world that we are emerging from this crisis as a bigger person.

Sure, there will be much to grumble about. Traffic jams will return, pushy people will elbow their way back into polite society, and the bustle of life as we knew it will edge back onto sidewalks and thoroughfares everywhere, but we needn’t relinquish the inner peace and quiet that we have gained from this break in the action.

As you rub your eyes and start your engines again, make no mistake: the world will give you plenty of reasons to trade your higher self for your inner Karen, but before you do that, take a minute to think. Things haven’t opened back up fully, so there is still time to reflect on how you want live moving forward.

Every person who gives you a hard time, tries to annoy you, or deliberately goes out of his or her way to make your life hard is giving you a chance to either: (1) consolidate what you’ve learned about dealing with people or (2) to learn something new about yourself. Refuse to take others’ offenses personally, even if they are aimed at you. Such encounters need not be taken personally for even if offense is intended, it need not be taken.

When such occasions arise, ask yourself: “How can I be a bigger person” – not the bigger person but a bigger person. This distinction is important because handling people rightly, that is, with dignity and genuine care, is not a competition, but an art. It is in many ways the art of living.

I was waiting in a socially-distanced queue the other day a the grocery store and noted that the gaggle of frustrated, mostly masked shoppers and tired staff made for an interesting display of both the finest and the worst human beings can offer in a normal social setting.

Some clerks handled the pressure well, while others were clearly over the frequently rude and demanding patrons. I happened to have a particularly cheery clerk, despite the fact that her husband had passed away just weeks before the COVID crisis erupted. She engaged with each customer, asked how they were faring, and wished them well. This not only diffused tensions in our line, it set the stage for the other clerks and baggers to come in and hit it out of the park. Well, few of them appeared to, but that’s on them and their short-sightedness.

So I guess what I learned today, more by observation than by doing, is that you really do have a choice as to how to handle when people are being ornery or disrespectful. You can let it throw you off your game or you can take charge and handle the situation with poise and deliberate action. You need not react and blow up or conversely, fall down in a heap.

As for me, I went about my business quietly and observantly, took care not to form judgments, took note of the inchoate world forming around me, and wrote this post so that I could share the experience with you. I say this not to toot my own horn, but to encourage you to take charge in your world by assuming a radiant stance, no matter what comes at you today.

Dare to be a bigger person.

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