I haven't finished reading this book but it taught me a lot of things. There are simple things that I make complicated. I want to share a story, something that I can't believe happened. Thanks for the Divine intervention. Here goes: My son's classmate invited him and my other son Lex for a birthday celebration. I was on leave one day and the mother also mentioned it to me when we met in school but the celebration is only 2 days away. Since we didn't had the time to buy a gift, Lito just got whatever he can find in a toy store in downtown. He got him an Avengers set of Matchbox (Iron Man, Captain America and another one). We usually decide which one is good for the celebrator but it didn't happen for Kyle's friend. On the actual birthday, they went to a playplace and then ate at McDonald's. Then they gave the gifts. Upon opening of the gift, the mother told Kyle "I was disappointed with your gift". Kyle told me later that she told him "I invited 2 of you and that's your only gift?". My nanny told me that Kyle cried and it looked like she is scolding Kyle. She was on the other side of the room, putting Lex jacket on. Upon hearing the story and imagining how Kyle felt, I got pissed. Lito wanted to talk to the mother so I gave her number. He was not able to contact the mother but talked to the father instead and told him what happened. The father only said "No worries, I will handle it."
The next day, Kyle told me that his classmate told him that they cannot be friends anymore. I told him it's going to be okay. I realized how different it is here where in the Philippines, parents give grandiose parties without expecting expensive gifts. She only treated my sons to a playplace and McDonald's and thinks she can demand the gifts she wanted to get. I was also disappointed because Kyle said they were having real fun, the celebrator was very happy. But it was ruined by unnecessary remarks. Some people go after material things rather than the real joy that their children wanted.
We met this family again on my nanny's wedding. She was invited because she presented her daughter to be one of the flower girls. First on the rehearsal day, I already saw her in the parking lot and then while were waiting inside the church. I was playing the iPad and she approached me and said "Hi" I said "Hi" too but continued playing, my eyes glued to the iPad. She started talking but all she got was cold shoulder because she didn't even bother to apologize to her being rude to my kid. I knew she noticed it because when she saw another acquaintance, she talked to her instead. On the way home from the rehearsal, we saw them in a phone booth, maybe calling the husband to fetch them.
On the wedding day, because of the nice gown and being made up, I was high-spirited and didn't want to ruin my day. It's Annabel's day and I just wanted to enjoy too. I talked to her, in long sentences and not just nodding haha. I even commented on her daughter being cute and brave to walk the aisle without her. I thought about breaking down the walls, and whatever it was that hurt me, I'll just melt it by being nice to her. She asked us if she can ride with us going to the Reception and I told her, there's only one seat left because we have another friend coming with us. I guess she was able to find a ride because I saw her in the Reception Hall. We talked more while the program is going on and while lining up for the photobooth.
The dinner was superb but the program was long so the kids had to sleep and skip dinner. Lito wanted to leave but I told him we will just finish the speeches (and the dessert LOL!). When finally it was time to go, Lito asked me to ask the Mother to ride with us going home. I didn't have second thoughts and I felt that it was the right thing to do. Like a candle, the barriers melted away when I approached her and told her if they didn't have a ride yet, they can ride with us. She asked if we were going at that time and then she readied her daughter who was also sleepy. Her smile at that time meant a lot to me. During the ride home, we talked again like before, talking about the Koreanovelas and struggling in Canada as immigrants. When they got off, she was very thankful. She also told me that she is thankful because if not for Kyle, she will not meet Annabel and her daughter will not become a flower girl. I hoped that she will realize that what we did to her that night doesn't match any expensive gifts anyone could give.
Richard Carlson (author of Don't sweat the small stuff) enumerated strategies to simple ways to keep little things from taking over your life and it included this:
"Choose being kind over being right." We are given many opportunities to choose between being kind and being right. You have chances to point out to some one their mistakes, things they could or should have done differently, ways they can improve. You have chances to "correct" people, we have the tendency to put others down, correct them and tell them we are right. Our ego mistakenly believes that if we point out how someone else is wrong, we are right and we feel better.
But our heart says the opposite. It knows it's impossible to feel better at the expense of someone else. When your goal is to build people up, to make them feel better, to share in their joy, you too reap the rewards of their positive feelings. What you want is a peaceful interaction where all parties leave feeling good. You resist being right and choose kindness because you'll have a peaceful feeling within.
Richard warned not to confuse this strategy with being a wimp, or not standing up for what you believe in. He is not suggesting that it's not okay for you to be right - only that you insist on being right, there is a price to pay - your inner peace. In order to be a person filled with equanimity, choose kindness over being right. God will be smiling each time you do.