Stories of small things and gestures I especially enjoy- they can happen in everyday life and can, if you notice them, beautify a day in a simple way.
It might be the giving the still valid parking ticket to the next person, before continuing the journey, as my travel companion in Scotland did.
Or bringing back something lost to another person- even if it is only the bottle or 50 pence, two examples I can think of in the past weeks.
Or it can be the giving the bottle return receipt to another person, so that they can collect the money. That is what my colleague recently did. He said, he did not want to walk the 100 meter to get the money back. But I think this gesture still has something friendly. It has something to do with thinking also of others, not just yourself.
Small actions, that you would not have to do, but that make yourself and others happy.
Every little gesture of mine can be something special for another person.
Listening is a special art. I mean active listening, not just with half an ear. Listening in a way that you pay full attention to another person, that you are really interested in what the other one says. That is something Michael Ende already said in his beautiful book “Momo”: it is important to listen in the right way!
I get the impression that many people do not get heard these days, when they want to say something. Or no one is listening long enough to them, because time seems to be missing. Or maybe it only seems to us that the others are not listening properly. At work I often meet people that do not want to talk to me, but they want to tell me something. Then it seems like they have no one else, who can listen to what they have to say, than a stranger who is standing in the streets, trying to do its job. I remind you of the very first story, “Listening in Berlin”.
Listening can be practised. At my university there is a regular meeting that is dealing with exactly that. In the round of talks it is everyone’s turn once. Everybody has a certain timeframe for talking, to get something off their chest or talk about anything random. And the others have to listen. No one is allowed to interrupt, no commenting, just listening. And often, this is already enough.
A similar exercise is what we did just a while ago, in a seminar that was a lot about the right way to communicate. We had to sit back-to-back with another person and then had at first one person, then the other one two minutes time to talk about anything. And the second person had two minutes a silent intermission. Afterwards we were supposed to repeat the core message of the other one. What had happened? I completely embarked to the narration of my partner, because I knew it was her time to talk now. And her story had my full attention. Because we were sitting back-to-back and the sound was hindered, I had to listen even better to not miss out on anything. I thought it was a great exercise.
This might be a bit unusual text for this purpose, not really a story, but I am convinced that listening to each other will bring us all further together.
Family should be there for each other self-evidently. And friends are like a family, that you choose yourself. But there, where you do not expect it, empathy and support is bringing the most joy. A friend shared an experience with me, about a woman that went beyond her duty at work, for other people’s sake. A beautiful gesture.
“Nearly three weeks ago my grandfather died. Today I have been visiting my grandmother. At the same time she was visited by a person, that I did not know. It was a mobile carer, who, after my grandfather had several operations two years ago, changed his bandages and controlled everything regularly. Since mid 2018 was my grandfather no patient of hers anymore. But she still visited my grandparents on a regular basis, drank coffee with them, talked. And also today she was a great support for my grandmother. And all of this, despite the fact that she has her own family, despite the fact it is not her working time and she is only half as old as my grandmother. And that in a job, where she has a lot of stress and pressure. It shows, with how much passion these people pursue their profession and how much they give to their patients, far beyond their official working hours. A beautiful example of humanity, I think.”
I know, that it is a problematic topic every single time and in many aspects, but there are also so many positive stories in it: during the wave of refugees, that arrived in autumn 2015 in Europe, there were many acts of humanity on many sides. From some of his experiences reported a friend:
“Today I supported again the refugees on the fairground with the distribution of tea and food and what some people are thinking, about what is allegedly happening up their, is not true!
The most of them are so friendly, they try to learn our language and I wish I could learn some of these foreign words as fast as these kids! I am trying my best and try to speak a few words Arabic with them and then they are even friendlier to me. They help me with the words I do not know and ask me how I am, but they are even more surprised when I try to speak Arabic with them, because they simply cannot believe it.
If you see only the smile on their faces and the thankfulness for our help, you already know that it is worth to help!
Every day that I am there, I make new friendships and try to memorise unfamiliar names and faces and the best is when I can simply play table tennis with them! Try to announce the score in three languages, German, English and Arabic and concentrate on the game at the same time…
But my best experience so far was today: some of my friends had bought their own food (usually they get their food in the canteen) and invited me to eat with them. They, who had lost nearly everything, shared their lunch with me, simply unbelievable and truly rewarding!”
It gets always said, water is life. And that it is one of the most important resources, that we have and need as humans on earth. I personally have to think thankful to all the people, that gave me water and helped me through that.
Once in summer I underestimated the heat while running and I got really thirsty. I never miscalculated in that way and I still had a few kilometres to get back home. So I asked two cyclists, who came in the opposite direction, for water and they let me drink from their water bottles.
While hiking in Ireland, our water bottles were empty one day and we did not found anything on the way to fill them up. Then we also helped us out by asking and ringed the bell at a house in the next village. The friendly woman there did not only let us refill our bottles, but also invited us immediately for tea.
Also on our most recent cycling trip we asked people on the way, if we can refill our water bottles at their places. And even though it is often said, that Germans were withdrawn and unfriendly to strangers, my experience cannot confirm that. Since we did the first step towards them, everyone on our way helped us and also had a conversation with us about our journey. I often had the impression, that they liked to help us and did not only see it as obligation. Sharing with joy- isn’t that also a form of humanity- especially when it is about something as important as water?
It happens now and then, that you lose something important, the keys, wallet or similar. And you usually feel gratitude and relieve, if someone finds the lost things and brings them back. Not always although, as a friend experienced when he found someone’s passport and informed this person about it. The owner picked the passport up, with an attitude as if he was taking it for granted and the gesture was not worth any special thankfulness. My friend also did not see it as a special act, but because of this behaviour someone else stood put in a positive way for him. Not too long ago, he found the credit card of someone else and could identify and contact the owner. And this person was overjoyed and thanked him a lot, with chocolate and friendly words, that showed how much he appreciated this little act. And I believe, this is also a part of humanity: gratitude.
For many, the bringing back of lost things is already self-evident. And when my friend told me this story, it made me think that maybe especially nice people can think of less occasions that are outstanding enough to get told here, because they see these humane gestures as natural.
“That was super impressive: right now there is a woman in the bus and she thought, because the child is only three years it would not need a ticket. But then the bus driver came and said she needs to buy a ticket for 7 Euro for the child. The woman did not speak German properly and she called someone on the phone und you could hear from the conversation that she could not pay the ticket. And then there was a man, two rows behind her, who gave the driver 10 Euros and said he will pay for the child and he did not even want to have the change back from the woman 🙊🙈.”
Taking the bus is such an everyday experience, that I can imagine this situation very well. And this narration put a little smile on my face. It made me ask myself: does every single Euro always matter to me, when it is needed somewhere else?