The Art of Being Nice…

Maybe I should have called this post “The art of being nice while using Berlin public transportation at rush hour”, but that would have just been a very long name for a post, don’t you think?

Maybe I should have called it something deeper, like “the art of being conscious and thinking before I act”, because that is kind of more what I want to say, but it’s also quite long.

My point is, the subject of this post is very deep. With this in mind, it’s a rather short post, because it was just something I thought about on my way home without having reached a satisfying conclusion. A thought in progress, so to speak.

I was on the tram on my way home from work, and it was much more crowded than usual. I’m guessing the tram before didn’t come, so twice the amount of people had to fit into this one. I was standing pressed against the back of a girl a few years younger than me, who was with her friend. The two of them had only one subject of conversation – how annoying it was that the tram was so crowded. At one stop, when people started getting off, the girl closest to me started actually pushing away in my direction to try to give herself some space. It caused me to almost fall and push a kid of approximately 11 years out the door… and it made me pretty angry. I told her, in the nicest tone I could muster, that I’d fall out of the tram along with the kid if she kept leaning backwards. Her response was aggressive, mine irritated, it went back and forth like that twice more and then I just decided it wasn’t worth responding anymore, seeing as she’d at least stopped pushing so much. My mood was ruined at this point though, and I did feel like following up the argument and trying to “win”… because of course, by shutting up I was essentially letting her have the last word. To refrain from restarting the argument, I checked with the kid to make sure he was okay, managed to joke with a woman standing close by, and smiled, even though I didn’t really feel like it. It actually helped and three stops down the line, when I got off, I wasn’t mad anymore, just thinking what a waste of lifetime it was to let your evening be ruined by a few too many people on your tram. I wanted to say this to the girl who had lashed out at me, but I thought she’d take it as further provocation, so I shut up and just turned that thought over in my head as I walked home.

I mean, I like being nice, and I didn’t like the person I was on that tram when the girl started pushing me. I don’t like myself when I snap at people, and God knows (actually, Ari knows), I tend to do it when I’m upset, angry or just frustrated with something, which can be fairly often. A stressful day or even heartbreak is not an excuse to lash out at your best friend, and a crowded tram is not an excuse to snap at a stranger. Especially since doing it does not even make me feel better, it makes me feel worse.

So the thought processing in my head is: How does one get to the stage of awareness I was at by the end of the tram ride? Calm, knowing that none of this is big enough to have the power to ruin my day unless I let it… and then actively deciding to smile and not let it. How do I get to this point before I say something less than friendly? How can I be in this state of centered-ness consistently? And is the answer really that I have to start getting up at 5:40 like Ari to meditate myself into a more relaxed state of mind?

I have no idea – but I’m trying to find out!


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