by Petra Bartoli y Eckert
There are these days when it would have been better not to get up at all. That’s how I felt on a gray day this fall. And I couldn’t imagine that the day would somehow still be good. Then I met a person who encountered me with kindness and humor. And who unexpectedly made my day better!
Piles of papers piled up on my desk that needed to be processed. I felt like I was constantly running uphill that morning with no end in sight. I was stressed out! And then there was a doctor’s appointment that had been scheduled for weeks, and right now it didn’t fit into my schedule at all. As a freelancer, my work life is very tightly scheduled, and additional appointments quickly disrupt this plan. I kept the appointment anyway. Because with a specialist, the waiting times are long until you get a new appointment.
So I sat impatiently in the waiting room. Kept looking at the clock. Why was this taking so long? I checked my e-mails on my cell phone. Looked at the clock again. Then finally it was my turn. The appointment in the consulting room took much less time than the waiting time before. Then there was a blood sample to be taken. I sat in front of the lab – and waited again. It felt like an eternity until I was finally called.
And then suddenly someone is unexpectedly friendly…
A young lab technician asked me to follow her. „Thank you for being so patient,“ she said kindly as she held the door open for me. I was taken aback. I had not expected this! I noticed myself slowly relaxing. Before the lab technician took my blood, she wanted to know my height. As a precaution, she measured me. And came to a completely different conclusion! „I’m not 5,6 feet tall. I’m 5,7 feet!“, I contradicted the reading on the tape measure. The lab assistant laughed. Sincerely and warmly. „You’ve shrunk. That’s perfectly normal. It happens to everyone in the course of their lives. It happens to me, too. And I’m only 33 years old.“
Grinning, she shrugged her shoulders. I had to smile. It was easier to take the shrinkage with humor. During the blood draw, the lab technician told me how laughter and friendliness helped her stay cheerful and balanced despite staff shortages and stress. Her laughter was contagious. Surprisingly upbeat, I left the practice.
On the way back to my desk, the world looked different than it had two hours ago. No, not my surroundings, my view had changed. I heard faint guitar notes. They had to be coming from a street musician playing a few corners away. A spicy smell of wet autumn leaves rose to my nose as I walked a bit through the park. A squirrel scampered across the gravel path in front of me and nimbly climbed a tree. I looked after him. All this I would certainly not have noticed before my encounter with the young woman in the doctor’s office.
The rest of the day was nevertheless full. There was a lot to do. But it was better than I had expected. Because the smile that the friendly lab assistant had conjured up on my face lasted all day.
Friendliness as a serotonin booster
Out of curiosity, I ended up researching the topic of „kindness“ at the end of the day. And why such a nice encounter is so particularly beneficial and valuable. There are studies on this by the universities of Berkeley and Harvard. These show that particularly small acts of kindness have a positive effect on both the person being treated kindly and the person being kindly.
Researchers call this „random acts of kindness.“ Small, kind gestures cause both people to release serotonin – a neurotransmitter popularly known as the „happiness hormone.“ I just have to say: It really felt like luck that I met this friendly woman who made the day a good day!
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