Goodbye Grumblings

Find the good

Even a small connection can bring comfort

Even a brief human contact can make things a little brighter and be a surprise source of wisdom. As things settle into place after some weeks of difficult changes, both in my own small world and the larger one, I’m grateful to my work colleagues for reminding me of this.

I went into the lunchroom at work one recent morning to wash my coffee cup and came upon some of my colleagues chatting. We exchanged a few words, a couple of smiles, and I went back down the hall, momentarily distracted from the gloom and doom I had been thinking of a few minutes earlier.

A small connection can have a big impact. And a brief interaction may deliver just the piece of wisdom needed at that moment. In the lunchroom I heard the perfect example:

You can’t change the wind, so adjust your sails.

It’s not new, but but it’s oh so appropriate. And so much kinder and more useful than, “Suck it up, Buttercup.” Of course I knew already that when a situation isn’t ideal or when a change happens that I’m not expecting, I have the ability to adjust how I act in response. But do I always remember that? No, certainly not. I sometimes need a reminder. And I can’t always count on myself to deliver that reminder.

Adjusting to a new reality takes time. Once I get through the emotions, I sometimes need a reminder to stop moping, look around and make a plan. Maybe the plan is as simple as changing my perspective and looking for the good, or deciding not to judge. Maybe it’s as simple as saying to myself,

This sucks, but I’m going to get to work anyway.

When I’m stressed out or emotional about things going on in my personal life, at work or in the world, connecting with another person helps. It doesn’t have to be intense or long. It can be as short as a passing-in-the-hallway conversation, even just a real eyes-to-eyes smile. I’m talking about the connection that happens when we really see each other, even briefly, when we recognize that this is more than the automatic, “How are you.” (Which does have value, but that’s another discussion.) Human connection helps when things are tough. When we look into each other’s eyes and smile in understanding, when we show we’re both aware of how things are, we’re saying,

You’re not alone. We’re in this together. I understand. 

There’s comfort in knowing that we are sharing an experience. 

It’s good for me to be reminded that there’s comfort in connecting with people, because given a choice between two activities, I most often select the option with the least number of people.

I started writing this post about how great it is to connect with people, how lovely it is to know we’re not alone. But something snuck up on me.

It’s not just about people. I need to make the effort to connect.

If I agree that connecting can bring a benefit to me, it also means that other people can benefit from connecting with me. Since I believe that it’s important to try to find good and do good, to be true to that belief, it follows that I need to step out of my comfort zone every now and then and initiate connections with people who might otherwise not connect. I need to be the one to perhaps change someone’s day from gray to slightly less gray.

I love the stories of one person’s seemingly casual contact making a difference in someone’s life. It’s challenging to accept that I could have that much influence.  I also love the concept of smiling at complete strangers and triggering a small ripple of positivity. (I’ve even tried it. It was exhilarating, but exhausting.)

This is all very disturbing. I think Grumblings is an extreme introvert. Maybe the way for me to wrap my head around this one and shush Grumblings is to practise empathy — and to remember that even a brief connection can help someone. Stop worrying about myself and instead remember that someone may be in need of comfort, may be in a place where she or he would never think of initiating. A kind word, a smile or a listening ear is not a lot to give, but it may improve someone’s day all out of proportion to the effort put in.

I have friends and family members who are expert at connecting with people, and I admire them greatly. Do you have any examples of how a little connection helped improve your day? Send me an email (susan at or share in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!



About GrumblingSusan

Word lover. Story addict. Daydreamer. Optimist. Ottawan. Treehugger. Scouter.

4 Replies

  1. Debbie Soroczan

    This is a timely read for me. I, too, really enjoy connecting with others, be it briefly with a shared laugh with a stranger in line at the coffee shop, or for an evening with friends over a good meal. I tend to default towards my own unnamed Grumblings type creature, and a connection often effectively knocks her back for a time, and brings a rush of joy. I also need to initiate more. I find, as I age, that I’m less likely to reach out, and more inclined to stay in, read, or do work. I need to force myself to pick up that phone (to message or text, of course!), or simply get outside. I also enjoy the feeling of helping to lift another person’s spirits. When it happens, I think, “I need to do this more”. It’s such a win-win.

    1. GrumblingSusan

      Thanks for commenting, Debbie. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has the urge to hide away even when I know I’ll enjoy myself by being social.

  2. Auntie

    Good food for thought today Susan! Love it!

    1. GrumblingSusan

      Thanks Auntie. xox

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