His name was Karl—it said so on his a name badge. He was heavyset and middle-aged, unremarkable at first glance.
But then he smiled. He looked right at me and smiled. And his eyes twinkled.
It was disarming. It jolted me out of the caught-up world of my own head. I couldn’t help but to look back and return a smile.
Not my quick, polite, thank you smile. A genuine, spontaneous smile.
Who was this man and what were his superpowers?
I’m behind in my work right now, trying to catch up after the holidays. My online supermarket order hadn’t arrived by the time the kids needed to be at school. We charged up the hill and there was the delivery truck rounding the corner. The kids raced off to the school gate and I bolted back down to the house.
And here was Karl.
He explained that there was a delay in loading the truck. It had been bucketing down. He added superfluously that right at the moment he arrived to unload his first delivery (and here he chuckled and clicked his fingers), the rain stopped—his superpowers were impressive, I thought.
Then came that smile.
“But you’ve had to rush. Sorry, not the ideal start to your day, huh?” He somehow lured me into a thoughtful, open and honest state, and I answered him.
“Well actually it’s no drama whatsoever. Now that I’ve stopped, and I’m standing here, I feel good about the day,” I was surprised to hear myself say.
We chatted while we took the groceries inside. Only briefly but long enough to laugh. Long enough also for me to admit that stress mastery was my work, and for him to share that his cancer diagnosis last year taught him a lot about stress.
“Bottom line,” he said, “the woman in my life loves me and says she wants to marry me!”. He beamed, said bye and left.
And he left me in a far better mood than he found me. His superpowers are living in the moment and connecting with people.
And here are just three examples of how Karl influenced the rest of my day:
1. I switched off auto-pilot
My daughter and I have open and engaging conversations but we’re just as susceptible as anyone to tired, distracted exchanges.
“How was your day?…Yeah, good….That’s good,” it might go.
Today, I bent down, faced her and ventured: “yeah, good how?”
And for my effort I won an animated account of the sketches she proposes to do for the new library teacher who wants to redecorate the walls. Beautiful.
2. I noticed other people
I went for a run and when I saw a man stop and move with his dog to the side of the path, I responded differently to how I normally would.
I cocked my head to one side to catch his gaze, and gave him a cheery, “g’day”.
It’s not unusual for me to be friendly but I’m focussed when I run (trying hard not to quit and walk). But he looked caught up in his own head the way I often am, and I wanted to acknowledge his effort—it meant I didn’t have to divert onto the road.
After my greeting I swear I saw his chin rise a little and his shoulders ease. And I felt a slight lift in my energy.
3. I savoured a shared moment
At bedtime I always kiss the kids goodnight and nuzzle the side of their necks. Tonight however, I stopped and lay down next to my little boy.
We lay still and silent for a moment. Then he leant up, looked at me and sniggered. He gave me an eskimo kiss and lay back down to go to sleep. What can I say?
Shared Mindful Moments
I’m calling them Shared Mindful Moments and I thank Karl for today’s lesson. What a simple and surprising mood booster.
Have a go!
Make someone’s day with a Shared Mindful Moment and it’ll make your day too.