I was doing my daily mom carpool recently when my 3-year-old son, Ben, piped up from the back seat.
“Mom, what does yannoy mean?”
Yannoy? My brain started turning over every word in Webster’s dictionary trying to figure out what Yannoy means.
“No! Annoy, Mom. What does annoy mean?”
As I used words, like bother and bug, to help him grasp the concept of annoy, I started to think of all the ways I allow myself to become annoyed during the day.
Someone goes first at the four-way stop even though it’s my turn. Someone sits at the four-way stop waiting for me to go even though it’s not my turn. Someone walks through a door and lets it slam in my face instead of waiting an extra two seconds to hold it open when he can see my hands are full. Someone washes her hands in a public restroom and throws her paper towel on the floor next to the garbage, leaving it for someone else to clean up.
None of these things are tragic, but if I allow myself to start believing that the world is out to steal my happiness, it certainly will.
The Bible talks about going beyond forgiving your enemies and actually wishing a blessing for them. That’s always stumped me because I don’t feel like I have very many enemies. Who am I supposed to bless if I don’t hate anyone?
Maybe my enemy isn’t a person. Maybe my enemy is everything in this world that’s not light and love. If that’s the case, then every day I have the chance to chase away the enemy called darkness, in my life and the lives of the people around me. My weapon is kindness.
Dennis Seeb, a brilliant poet and philosopher in the Fargo-Moorhead area sent me a note telling me about how he combats the darkness of people who bump into his happiness.
“A few weeks back I was leaving a local coffee shop. I was already in my car heading out of the parking lot. Here comes another vehicle, and the driver must think I am headed to the drive-through because instead of slowing down, she actually made a decision to gun it and cut me off so she could get in line of the drive-through ahead of me. Much to her dismay I simply smiled at her as she zoomed by.
“So I thought about it for a moment. I was not going to let her get away with this kind of behavior. So I parked my car and then went back into the coffee shop. Thankfully, there was no line inside. I told the barista what had happened and said I wanted to pay for that person’s purchase. I did that and then left. A fleeting moment of grace. It felt pretty good.
“I had a choice at that moment. I chose to continue to have a perfectly nice day. It is just that simple.”
Perhaps the woman in the car felt the world was out to get her, that the darkness was surrounding her and the only way she could combat it was by kicking into survival mode.
That one act of kindness Dennis paid to a woman who maybe didn’t deserve it may have changed the entire outlook of her day and affected the way she treated everyone else she bumped into.
Kindness is contagious. It’s also a powerful tool to use against people who yannoy you.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is an author, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday. You can also get a Daily Dose of Inspiration from Nicole at www.nicolejphillips.com.