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An article I was requested to submit for publishing in the Heritage AII in house magazine.

Submitted:Apr 10, 2007    Reads: 219    Comments: 5    Likes: 0   

There is something good about walking into the office in the morning to meet the smiling faces of your colleagues, cheerful for another day and ready to work. This alone can brighten a bad morning and put you in the right mood even after sloshing in the rain.

To most observers, these warm and charming smiles reflect the love, success and happiness of the homes that these people left behind in the morning. Well, such an assumption wouldn't sound farfetched, though in most cases the cheers only reflect an unvoiced wish of how things could be if we reached out to our spouses and colleagues, opened our arms wider to our children and cared a little more about our quarrelling neighbours at home.

In the inner most recesses of our hearts lies an innate desire to be understood and to be loved, our physical, health or financial conditions not withstanding. These are yearnings that most people wish could be fulfilling through the relationships they form at their places of work and at home. While some indeed achieve this, others fail mainly due to their personal characteristics and attitudes. For instance, the out going type of people is sociable and easier to reach out to, bond with and forge supportive networks compared to introverts. This not withstanding, the relationship between our lives at workplace and at home is much intertwined, to the extent that our success or failure in achieving happiness in one of these areas greatly affects our achievements in the other.

In other words, any joy or frustrations we experience at home is eventually carried over to the work place, and the vice versa. But what does a friend's level of happiness or frustration have to with us, and why should we care to foster positive feelings in an indifferent environment?

The answer to this is simple: Delight and annoyance are contagious. By making our working environments and neighbourhoods cheerful, we not only endear ourselves to others, but also create healthy and more productive surroundings for all. This is indeed important in our modern world where people smile to hide the hurts and bitterness ebbing deep within them.

With the ever increasing levels of twinge and frustrations from collapsing homes with innocent children to care for, un-repayable loans with ill health and school fees craving the remaining cents in the face of job insecurity among other demands, we should see the need for us to go beyond saying a simple hello to our colleagues and neighbours each time we meet.

Thinking of it, genuine kindness towards others costs nothing but a change of attitude on our side. In the midst of life's challenges, even the strongest amongst us - our boss and parents included - wish they had someone they could express their worries and anticipations to (not necessarily someone to solve the problems, but simply to listen and show a caring attitude).

What you don't know could be hurting you

Psychologists say that life is a mirror, and that the apparent contempt with which your neighbour, colleague or boss treats you is largely a reflection of the contempt they read in you towards them. By keeping off and watching from a safe distance as your neighbour's home disintegrates, or as a disagreement at workplace degenerates into an argument and name calling, you in a sense midwife the birth of an uncaring society. In the same way, the affected parties will charge menacingly at you on the slightest provocation, and will wear masks of indifference when you get into trouble rather than reach out to save you.

Like wise, when children feel dejected at home and lack solace from the society, they turn against their own homes and society with the same or higher level of indifference it has demonstrated towards them, as the late Matheri did to his people of Gachie in Kiambu district.

In retrospect, children need to grow in a tender, loving and healthy atmosphere where they feel accepted and free to be themselves. This can not happen unless we reach out and show them their worth to us and help in shaping their dreams for the future. As adults, we desire to work in an environment that besides providing opportunities for us to earn a decent living, enables us also to participate in making the lives of others worth living.

The best and easiest way to achieve this is by reaching out to each other is fine and hard times, opening up channels through which we can express our aspirations and frustrations openly to each other, and by making the groundwork upon which more trusting and mutually supportive relationships can be forged, both at work and in our neighbourhoods.

John Wanjora


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