Week 10 of 'The Great Wake Up!'
I never thought that I'd find this weeks experiment - to help a stranger each day - so difficult. It's not because I don't like helping others, or that I don't want to. Far from it. Helping others when they need it is something that feels very important to me. But what struck me was the very small number of strangers I actually come across in my day-to-day life and when I did, how hard it was to find an appropriate opportunity to help them.
On the first day of the experiment I worked from home. Doing this helps me get my head down and concentrate on a specific piece of work without any interruptions. But it meant that I didn't venture outside at all. So day one passed and I hadn't come across any strangers to whom I could offer my assistance to.
On the second day I attended a course with people I knew. On my way there I looked around on the tube, as well as during my short walk to the venue, for people to help. Again, nothing. Which really surprised me. There were lots of people about but I felt unsure as to what I could do to help them. I don't know if it's because things like holding doors open for others and allowing people to go ahead of me, comes so naturally that I don't even notice when it happens. Perhaps I do them without thinking.
So I told myself that to be 'successful' in this experiment I had to do something that was over and above what I normally do. That way it would feel like I was really pushing myself by changing my behaviour in some way.
On day three, I thought I'd try a different tack. I'm training for a marathon and had entered myself into a half-marathon. Now I'm not going to lie. I found it tough. So tough that I was positioned toward the back all the way around. But there were a few others further behind me and when I passed them going the other way, I made a point of trying to catch their eye to give them a smile of encouragement. A sort of 'we're in this together' signal. Which is unusual, because my normal approach is to keep my head down and avoid any type of contact with the other runners whilst I feel sorry for myself being in so much pain! And I have to say, smiling at others was uplifting. It made me feel a sense of connection and as a result helped me on my way around.
So in the end I had a small success and felt like I'd pushed myself somewhat to fulfil the requirements of the experiment. However the biggest change for me was simply becoming more aware of where there might be opportunities to help others. Even though they may not have always arisen, just looking out for them got me out of auto-pilot and more open to helping others if and when they should need it. And that's got to be a good thing!