Being Polite/Being Happy

Life here is quite different from that at home. And I’m not just talking about landscape or language. I mean, the people here are very different from where I’m from. I have come to use “thank you” and “I’m sorry” here at Appalachian more times in the past few days than I did my whole life at PR. People here tend to be much more attentive, they enjoy small talk, they genuinely care if you’re doing fine and they are very polite. I’m not saying that all people here are like that, I’m not trying to generalize or stereotype; however, it seems to be the norm for people to act like decent human beings.

I point these things out because where I come from people are usually rude, they fake politeness or genuinely don’t care if you’re trying to make small talk. Again, I am not saying all people from PR are like this; however, the people I have encountered are like this. I have stumbled onto very nice people and they are like gems in a coal mine. Nevertheless, there is a clear difference between how I was treated back home and how I am treated now.

All in all, I admit that this is one of the changes I enjoy the most. Much like the cold mountain air, it’s quite refreshing when people like to make small talk and try to be funny; it just puts a smile on my face. Back home, I could only find these traits when I was in my worst moments and by grace of God I found someone who was genuinely caring and nice; whereas here most people are like this. Unless, of course, I am actually going through a rough patch and it’s all in my subconscious and that’s why people are nice to me and as soon as I get better people will be mean again. Or maybe this is all a prank in Ashton Kutcher’s show Punk’d, and since it’s the reboot of that series it’s the longest standing prank he has ever done.

Paranoia aside, I have come to appreciate this change. The idea that other people are conscious of you as a being and are capable of acknowledging you, not for gain or because it’s their job, transforms you. It makes you care more about the people who you come across. The repetition of ‘thank you’, makes you realize how grateful you are for their service, their ‘good morning’ or even their own ‘thank you’. Saying ‘I’m sorry’, makes you realize that you may have had been bothering that person by asking them for something; even though they said it was okay. It makes you realize that while you were marveling at the giant ant on the floor you were blocking the way for someone to go across. And so on. Being polite, in a cheesy way, makes you a nicer person. It softens the hard edges of yourself and it makes you realize the importance of each person that passes by.

You may think it’s all very cheesy and a bunch of hippie-mumbo-jumbo, but practice does make habits. It reroutes brain cells, dendrites and conditions your brain to new behaviors. And when these behaviors are reinforced with something positive like a smile, a ‘thank you’ or a laugh it makes you a different person. It won’t clean away your personality but it will make it a sparkle and make it learn new tricks. And I guess that’s the whole point of new experiences, especially the positive ones. It’s not just about changing your atmosphere, your landscape or your address; it’s about changing yourself, your thoughts and your behavior. The main point is to find that place that brings out the best in you.

Singing off, TWS

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