This short story is great for people who want to be less self critical and want to increase their own happiness.
Original cover art by Paola F. Rey
Traffic was backing up for blocks on the busiest street in town and it was all her fault. A young woman named Soa had caused a Victorian Era traffic jam because one of her carriage’s back wheels had fallen off due to a loose bolt.
Soa’s father had warned her to check the bolts on the wheels before she left home, but she had been in a rush to leave. She had been rushing because she couldn’t wait to get away from the never ending series of questions he always asked her whenever she went anywhere.
Drivers of other carriages passing by gave Soa dirty looks because of the inconvenience she was causing them. When it comes to horse drawn carriages, every second counts.
Soa even noticed some of the people walking nearby pointing and laughing at her misfortune.
Soa felt that the situation was all her fault because she didn’t listen to her dad. This made her feel anxious because that meant it was up to her to fix the problem she had caused. It was her job to get out of everyone’s way quickly.
“Hey! Is this your carriage?” Soa heard a woman yell from the entrance of a shop on the street.
Soa felt tense and nervous because she thought the person yelling was probably an angry shop owner. She guessed that her carriage’s accident was distracting customers from shopping.
“I’m so sorry it’s in the way, I’ll find someone to move it as soon as I can,” Soa said, as she turned to face the woman.
Soa was surprised to see that the woman did not look angry at all. The woman was smiling at her and standing in the entrance of a potion shop. Through the glass outside, Soa could see a variety of potions for sale in the shop.
“Oh no! It’s completely fine! You don’t have to apologize,” the young woman said.
In an instant, Soa no longer felt any anxiety and the rest of the world around her faded from her mind.
Soa had expected anger, but she was instead receiving kindness.
“My names Pola. I have a little workshop in the back of the shop with some spare parts, just give me a second and I’ll grab my tools. I’ll get you back on the road in no time,” Pola said.
Soa realized that this young woman’s simple gesture of compassion and empathy had caused all her self critical emotions to disappear.
Pola returned with some parts and had the carriage fixed in less than 10 minutes.
“Don’t feel bad about this, it happens all the time. Just bad luck. Speaking of which, you could use some good luck,” Pola said.
Pola reached into her pocket and pulled out a shiny silver ring that featured a rose gold flower and intricate floral carvings on the band.
“I make these in my workshop for fun. There’s no diamonds on it or anything like that, but I noticed you don’t have a ring, so here you go,” Pola said, as she handed the ring to Soa.
“Really? Thank you. You’re very kind,” Soa said, as she put the ring on and examined it in her fingers.
“By the way, don’t be so hard on yourself. I noticed how nervous you were before. Be your number one fan, not your number one critic,” Pola said.
Soa smiled and climbed up onto her carriage.
“Safe journey home, miss Soa,” Pola said, before going back to her potion shop.
During her trip home, Soa thought about why she had felt so anxious when she got stuck and why she had been too hard on herself. She realized that she had set an impossible goal for herself, which was that no accidents could happen to her. Even if she had checked the bolts on the carriage, she may have still had the accident.
Soa looked down at the ring Pola had given her. She knew it was going to take a lot of work to retrain her thoughts, but becoming her biggest fan was a good idea. She was done being her biggest critic, because it was time for her to enjoy being more happy, something all people deserve.
Post Story Extra: You cannot force people, particularly strangers, to do kind things for you, but you can surround yourself with people who do. You should seek to bring kindness to others, because it tends to work its way back to you. There are few people who will not return your kindness if you make the effort and you should avoid those who do not. Conquering or reducing your self critical feelings by focusing on others is a powerful tool that will also bring you more happiness. Compassion and kindness are a real power that you can learn to use to increase happiness in yourself and others.