Be More Jaggers

10-1-16

This thought neither asks you to be more like the shady lawyer from Dickens’s Great Expectations, nor does it suggest that you should adopt some of the more comical behaviours that my pony-sized puppy, Jaggers, so eagerly displays the majority of the time.

Something that I have learned from little Jaggers, though, is to be optimistic about people, unless they do something that really gives you reason to do otherwise. Even then, remember yesterday’s note: don’t judge people by their mistakes.

Jaggers is your classic happy-go-lucky dog. He’s not scared of anyone until they give him a reason to be. He approaches every person he meets with a wagging tail, ready to engage, play and love. Willingly and happily. You may want to refrain from excitedly licking people’s faces and jumping on them, but I think, generally speaking, you get the idea.

It’s very easy to assume the worst of people in an attempt to protect ourselves. After all, if you expect the worst, it’s unlikely you’ll be disappointed, right? But it also fundamentally changes how we approach people and what sides we see of them. Even if someone doesn’t return the favour and is rude or unpleasant, intentionally or unintentionally, then give them the benefit of the doubt. They may not be having the best of days. They may struggle with social interactions. They may regret their behaviour later on. And yes, perhaps they are just not a nice person, but at least you tried. You gave them a shot, and you set them and yourself up for success rather than failure. Maybe they’ll do the same for someone else next time.

I have met people who always assume the worst of others. Who are defensive to the extreme, and always on the look out for who is conspiring against them. Don’t be that person. Overall, people can be pretty amazing. Jaggers certainly gets more smiles and cuddles and plays out of strangers than he does frowns and disapproving looks.

So go on, make Jaggers proud today and be kind to strangers. They may just surprise you.

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Nadine Muller

Nadine Muller

Nadine is Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University. Her research covers the literary and cultural histories of women, gender, and feminism from the nineteenth century through to the present day. She is currently completing a monograph on the Victorian widow (Liverpool University Press, 2018), and is leading War Widows' Stories, a participatory research and oral history project on war widows in Britain.

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