I get depressed.
I get depressed often when I think what I do doesn´t make any difference, doesn´t help anyone, and isn´t noticed. As a nurse, what I want to do is make a difference, help people, and just maybe motivate people. I think too often that I am not doing that. But the other day I had an experience that awoke me to a new understanding.
I was in my scrubs, eating breakfast at a local restaurant before starting my day as a home health care RN. I finished my meal and went to pay, but the restaurant´s card reader was down and they could only take cash as payment, and there was nothing green in my purse. I couldn´t pay the check. So, I waited as the staff tried to fix the card reader, chatted with the employees, kept a friendly and positive attitude. After about 10 minutes, the couple seated next to me asked ¨how much is your bill?¨ I demurred, but long story short, they paid for my breakfast so I could start caring for my patients.
The check was for $11.25. Not much really in the grand scheme of things. But look at what these kind and generous people inspired. I of course was flattered, grateful, and frankly a little stunned. It made my morning and I walked on air out of the restaurant with a renewed and inspired attitude. I carried that positivity throughout my day. Many people witnessing this at the restaurant were smiling and happy at witnessing this act of kindness. They carried that with them. My patients benefitted from my upbeat mood. I couldn´t wait to share my experience on social media and got dozens of likes from people who read it, and I believe they got their own feel-good moment from it.
What did I learn from this? That kindness, caring, positivity, and reaching out to help others really does make a difference. It doesn´t take a lot of time, effort, or money to make a difference. A relatively small act of kindness really does make a difference. And that what you do and say can have a significant and lasting effect not only on everyone around you, but also the people they encounter and interact with.
Kindness is actually a virus that you can spread to others without even knowing it. And, I thought later, the same goes for unkindness and negativity. Sure, I have known this for years, but this was a real life, personal, and striking demonstration of it.
So, I was graphically reminded that yes, I do make a difference in other people´s lives, often in little ways. I don´t have to do something world-shaking or life-saving. A few kind words, showing understanding, not blaming others for something out of their control…there are dozens of ways in which we can spread the virus of kindness in so many of our everyday encounters.
The breakfast those lovely people gave me cost them 12 bucks, which I will find a way to palpably pay forward. But those $12 bought a lot more than a breakfast. I can´t thank them enough.
Alyssa Hillger, RN, BSN