A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties. ~Harry Truman
Around 10 a.m., Dagny and I stopped in the lobby of our building to check the mailbox like we always do before our morning walk. Today, in addition to all the junk mail, I saw a crisp white envelope with a big Ikea logo on it addressed to me. I figured it was a receipt for my recent purchase gone awry, but upon opening it, I was pleasantly surprised to find a 20 euro gift card for a future purchase.
Anyone who has lived in France — expat or French person alike — will tell you French customer service is severely lacking when it comes to the service part. My interactions with service departments have been the butt of many jokes because they just don’t get service here. But today, Ikea surprised me and made me think about people in general…
Back in January, I ordered two things from Ikea online: a slipcover for an old couch and an area rug. The slip cover came within a week or two and the rug never showed up. Sure enough, I checked my credit card and I had paid for both items, but where was the rug? Time went on and I forgot about it and evidently so did Ikea. In April, I realized my floor was looking bare and followed up. I got the runaround on the phone, was told to email and then found myself on the phone again — all to no avail because no one knew where my rug was or why it was delayed MONTHS. I told them I wanted to cancel but that would be a whole process, so I figured I’d wait and let them get back to me. Finally, at the end of May, random delivery people showed up with my rug. I figured that was the end of it… until today when I got the gift card.
For what it’s worth, someone at Ikea felt that sending me a gift card was the right thing to do, and to me, the gesture was worth way more than the value on the card.
Could this possibly mean that Ikea was starting to understand customer service? If anything, they did manage to make me unexpectedly smile and in my book, that’s a definite start of something good! In typical French polite style, I’m going to email them a thank you, like encouraging a child for good behavior.
Anyway, this got me thinking about what it means to do the right thing — and the more I thought about it, the easier it was to come up with examples of people doing the right thing.
Before I get to that, let me first say that I truly feel you’ll find whatever you’re looking for. You’ll see what you want to see. (That’s not to say that it’s normal to never be negative, it’s very normal to complain, but if all you look for are negative things, maybe that’s all you’ll find. Trust me, I know…)
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve reaffirmed my belief that people are generally good and want to do good for others.
They want to help. They want to be happy. They want to love and be loved. This holds true regardless of nationality, ethnicity or any other differentiation. Of course there are bad people and even good people who have bad, angry or jealous thoughts. It’s only human nature. But broadly speaking, at our core, I know we are good.
Take for example these recent occurrences in my life:
— Ikea’s small gesture today that got me thinking
— A retired French neighbor who I’ve become friendly with. We walk our dogs together. She told me that when we move, she’ll miss our walks together!
— A doctor who has reviewed a family member’s MRI for me for free and has done two phone consultations because he genuinely cares about his patients and their well-being. He’s never even met me or charged me a dime.
— A busy friend who offers up her home if I ever need a place to stay once my parents move out of the NJ area.
— A stranger on the street letting me know I dropped a 5 euro bill on the ground and handing it back to me.
That’s just a short list, but these are all things that have happened in the past week, and until I thought about it, I didn’t really notice the trend. It’s so easy to get bogged down with the bullshit and with the minute details in life that don’t really matter. One little problem can snowball into a giant mess in your mind if you let it.
For the upcoming week, I challenge you to cast aside all the negative thoughts and stop feeding the the negativity cycle because it’s just too easy — there are negative things everywhere if we look. Challenge yourself to find the positives and maybe you’ll pleasantly surprise yourself.
Let me know what you find!
P.S.: Send some positive vibes my way that my flight today to my brother’s wedding gets out of Paris without a hitch. The French air traffic controller strike is in full swing… looking forward to being pleasantly surprised at the airport!