Thursday, 4 December 2014

How One Stranger Changed My Outlook on Life

You never really know when someone is going to come into your life and impact it so greatly that it changes your outlook for the better on almost everything.  I encountered one of those ‘someones’ a couple of months back when I was temping up in London, and for the first time in my life, I was completely and utterly in awe of a total stranger.

This stranger was an unassuming, kind-faced man in what I guessed to be his mid to late fifties with greying hair.  There was nothing extraordinary about this man's appearance, if anything he looked very ordinary, from the way he dressed down to the shoes he wore, but if you looked a little closer, that's when you noticed it.  This unassuming, kind-faced man was blind and he had been so since birth.

He had a soft tone to his well-spoken manner with a politeness that I had never really experienced before within the customer service oriented world.  He was led into the office, his arm looped through the arm of someone who worked within the building, and that was when I learnt that not only did this man have no sight but he was also hard of hearing and relied upon hearing aids to help him with this.  What struck me the most about this man was how he perceived his situation, he stated that he felt he was very lucky to have been born without sight rather than to have had it and then lost it.  Now, whether you agree with this statement or not is not the point, whether you agree that it's better to experience something and then lose it forever always knowing what you've lost or that it's better to have known it no other way than how it is because you can't miss something you've never had, isn't what I want to focus on.   It was this man's outlook on life that captured my attention and which I found immensely inspiring.  This was someone who had been given obstacles in life but he was grateful for how it was rather than how it could have been and what he did have rather than what he didn't have.

This man had every reason to be angry at the world but he wasn't, he was friendly and kind and thanked me over and over just for fetching him a cup of coffee.  When you come across people like that, even if it's just for a few minutes or even seconds, they can impact your life in a way that makes you look at everything differently.  How many times had I moaned about how unfair my life was just because I had missed my train or got home from work late?  How many times had I moaned about how unlucky I was just because I felt like I was the only one who had to work on a Saturday?  I realised that rather than focussing on everything that was going right in my life, I was focussing on everything that was going wrong, or at the very least, not how I had expected it to go.  I was constantly comparing myself to other people and feeling like I just didn't measure up, from my appearance to my career prospects, nothing was off limits in my one-woman pity party.

I needed to stop comparing myself to other people and start being grateful for what I did have and embrace it in the same way that this man did.  I will be forever grateful to this man for unknowingly changing my outlook on life and to me this is someone who is both admirable and inspiring as well as an example in which to follow.  I'm not saying that I won't ever attend my old pity party once in a blue moon because I'm only human, but I sure as hell will try a lot harder to tick the 'unavailable to attend' option when I next RSVP, after all, I hear the cake at those pity parties really sucks!