I am so honored to have been invited to be a contributor to The Wave. I referenced sharing purposeful moments in the title of this column. I thought a discussion of what that means to me would be a great start. As many know, I enjoy an active presence on social media. Anyone who sees what I share knows that I am in a pretty happy place in my life. Like all of us, I have suffered pain, but every day I am so appreciative for the happiness that I have been blessed with. Life has become a pretty simple formula for me. I am appreciative of the happiness I have found, and I look for ways – big and small – to share that happiness, however I can. I have adopted a practice, a kind of mindfulness, that continues to enhance my joy, and my feeling of connectivity to everyone sharing our life journey. Here it is: I am ever mindful, of the purposeful moments, in my purposeful life. Let me share some background on how that practice came to me.
Some years ago, Sergeant Mark Layne was dropping me off at my home at about 9 pm. Mark was not one of the people who drove me regularly, but he would fill in from time to time. Before I got out of the car I said to him, “Mark, I’m sorry. We really didn’t do much today.” I said that because I knew he loved being part of a lot of my engagements with people and even though we worked about 12 hours that day, I felt that it was a very long day without any meaningful interactions. He said to me, “Chief, don’t be sorry. Remember when you called the lieutenant whose mom is sick? Remember when we got out of the car and spoke with those rookies for about a half hour? Remember when we went to the hospital to visit the aunt of one of our cops? Chief, this was a great day!” I said to him, “I know it’s late Mark, but tell me more.” We both laughed and said good night.
Mark Layne was right. We certainly did have a very fulfilled day. However, because the day was so long and we moved from boring meeting to boring meeting, doing some of those meaningful things in between, I needed to be reminded of those important exchanges. And so it is true that we often let the monotony overshadow the important exchanges we have throughout the day. Because of that late night chat with Mark when he dropped me off, I started reflecting each night, remembering the times during the day that I witnessed, or was part of something impactful. I was very encouraged by those reflections. But a couple of years later I took that to a new level. Rather than reflect back later in the day, I try to be mindful of the purposefulness of purposeful moments, while they are happening. It has been life changing for me.
So what are purposeful moments? A better question is, how does a moment become purposeful? The answer is simple; when we take a moment to recognize it as such. Everyone of us live our days being kind to, and being supportive of people in our lives, and people we come into contact with throughout the day. We call our friends, our parents and our children. We tell our partners that we love them. We call friends and wish them a happy birthday. We hold the door for strangers. We ask the person answering the customer service line how their day is going. Imagine being just a bit more mindful of those exchanges, and the impact they may have, while they are happening. Imagine actually thinking of what we love about our parents, our children and our friends, when we speak with them. What would it be like if every now and then we told them that? Those exchanges, that we have every day and throughout the day, would certainly be more meaningful, and yes, purposeful. And here is the best part; they do not have to be big things. Because little things are big things. They all matter, more than we know.
When I take the receipt from the person at the register in Shop and Shop, I glance down at her name tag and say, “How are you doing Julie? Have a nice day.” I don’t always see a reaction, but frequently I see a quick smile. As if I was watching this exchange from somewhere else, I realize that she is happy that I took the time to call her by her name. That has more of an impact on me than it does on Julie. That is how it works for me. It motivates me to make as many moments in my day as I can special, purposeful.
Here is my personal favorite. Everyone holds the door for another when they are following right behind. Try holding the door when the person is 20 feet away. When I do I watch the person walk faster, saying, “Thank you, thank you.” Then say to him, “Don’t walk so fast, you are minimizing a pleasurable experience for me. I enjoy holding the door for you.” I love getting a wrong number on my phone. The caller will say, “I’m sorry, I have the wrong number.” I say, “Don’t be sorry; you’re probably a really nice person and I got to say hello to you.” Corny? For sure. But the message is not. One time, a man who sounded a bit older than me stopped and said, “Actually, I am a very nice man.” It was adorable. Bringing just a bit more humanity to a rather quick and distant exchange is important, and yes, purposeful.
I thank anyone who took the time to read this column. If one person takes away something from this that helps them be more mindful of the purposeful life they are already living, it will mean the world to me. Thank you everyone, and more purposeful moments to come, for each of us.