Tuesday, February 17, 2009

By Your Leave

A wise man named Tom Browning once taught me an important lesson: Nobody "makes" you mad. It's your choice to get mad. People like to press buttons, and get reactions. I'm seriously guilty of this, but I'm approaching it from another angle, so bear with me...
The key word here is "choice". We all have choices. They start the moment we choose to open our eyes in the morning. When someone says something to provoke, it's your choice to react. You could stop and think, "Why did he/she do that?" Many times however, we choose so quickly that it doesn't even seem like a choice. It may even be a choice you made long ago to react in that way every time a similar situation arises, so of course it doesn't seem like you thought about it.
I've been reading a little bit about a couple in the news. I think they're R&B singers. They had a fight, I guess, and he struck her. What gets me is the comments I've read about it: She "made" him mad, so he hit her. She deserved it.
Let me say this: NO. She said something, or did something, and his "choice" was to get angry. His choice was to strike her. He didn't have to get angry, he didn't have to hit her. He could have asked for a time out, or left the room. He could have tried to talk about the situation. She did not MAKE him do anything. She is not responsible for his emotions, just like you are not responsible for mine. Nobody, but nobody, deserves being hit, either. Even if it doesn't hurt much, it's a shock to the system.

I am basically a happy person. I choose it. You can call me "Pollyanna" and all other kinds of names. Fine. But this may be the only life I get, and I want to enjoy it all I can. That means being happy, because I've found I get a lot farther with a smile than with a sneer. It hasn't always been the case, and I've had people blame me for "making" them mad. ("I wouldn't hit you if you wouldn't make me mad!") I don't take it anymore.

But let's get along to today's reason to celebrate: I'm a happy person. Things can happen that are entirely out of my control, but I try not to blame others. Not always easy. People who are supposed to be helpful are not, often through no fault of their own.
Today was n
ot one of those instances. I was having trouble with a credit card. It was coming up declined, even though I paid the bill just last week. I called the number for customer service, and got a lovely lady named Ms. Harris. She told me what the problem was, got the card reinstated, and told me about her son and daughter. She was happy to have a pleasant customer to speak with, and I was happy to be that customer. We could have spent all day talking on the phone. When we finished, I asked to speak to her supervisor. I'm sure these folks hear complaints all the time. We all complain about bad customer service, but I wanted to talk to someone about GOOD customer service.
I was connected to her supervisor, and told him how courteous, how pleasant, and how helpful she had been. How I wanted to make sure she was recognized for her good work. I think he was a bit startled. But I've worked with the public. We tend to forget we're talking to other human beings, whether in New Delhi or Delaware. I appreciate when someone treats me as such, and I know she did, too.
I didn't "make" her happy. She was already that way. What I did was to choose to deepen that happiness a little, by adding my own. Come on in! The happiness is fine.

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