Harder Than You Might Think

On Monday, I made good on my random act of kindness and it was harder than you might think. At first, the gate attendant wasn’t following what I was trying to do – she thought I was looking to purchase multiple upgrades for myself. After giving the backstory to my request, she understood the intent and was more than happy to help me. The whole process took 20 minutes or so, but what surprised me the most was her initial shock at the request.

Is it really that surprising for someone to want to do something nice for someone else? Is a narcissistic mentality so ingrained in our society that we are taken aback when someone breaks away from that behavior? Perhaps I’m looking at the issue from the wrong perspective. Maybe the gate agent wondered if the travellers would accept a gift from a stranger. Like my mom, I have a difficult time accepting gifts (or even compliments) from others, so I can sort of understand. According to the Googles, we’re not the only ones.

In 2014, Psychology Today posted 5 Reasons Why Receiving Is Harder Than Giving. I can’t speak for anyone else, but none of those reasons really described my attitude towards receiving gifts. For me it’s a simple matter of believing that there are so many people in this world who could use something more than me that I don’t feel right accepting gifts. It has taken me years (and repetitive discussions from friends and family) to work through this to get to where I am today where I try to accept these gifts with appreciation and humility.

I’m hoping the Oakland fliers weren’t like me and accepted the upgrades and it made their flight more comfortable. Even if the travellers didn’t accept the upgrades, I felt terrific for the act. The cherry on the sundae was when the gate agent said, “This is so cool. You’ve inspired me.” I will smile every time I think of that.

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