What I Choose to Believe

By Angela Noel

September 22, 2016

I love finding money in my pants. I know it’s my own money in my own pants, but it still feels as if I’ve unearthed a hidden treasure. The routine of daily living can cause me to overlook something of value only to be surprised and delighted when I discover it again. I experience this same thrill whenever I encounter playful reminders of the creativity and kindness of my fellow humans in everyday life.

The owners of Modo Yoga Minneapolis, where I have practiced hot yoga for the last three years, noticed a problem. To address the issue, they posted a sign.

Modo Hot Yoga in Minneapolis assumes good intent, but offers a gentle reminder to pay attention. Signs that get the job done can be both playful and purposeful.
Modo Hot Yoga in Minneapolis assumes good intent, but offers a gentle reminder to pay attention. Signs that get the job done can be both playful and purposeful.

Phil and Ryann Doucette, owners of Modo, assume positive intent, offering a lighthearted reminder instead of a warning. Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander, authors of the book The Art of Possibility call this practice “Giving an A.”

The Zanders’ invite all of us to define the world differently. “The actions in a universe of possibility,” they write, “may be characterized as generative, or giving, in all senses of that word — producing new life, creating new ideas, consciously endowing with meaning, contributing, yielding to the power of contexts.” Whether someone offers a bit of goodness into the world purposely or accidentally, I believe it’s up to me to create meaning from their action, to enjoy it or ignore it.

At The Lowry, the favorite restaurant of my seven-year-old, every table comes equipped with little notepads and pencils, inviting doodles, poems, and endless tic-tac-toe games. The previous occupant of the table my son and I sat at recently probably didn’t intend for me to notice his or her portrait. But I’m glad I did.

Someone sketched a drawing while waiting for food to arrive. He or she left it behind for me to find. I love the detail around the eyeglasses. I also love that this isn't a polished or "important" work of art. It's just something awesome left behind by a talented someone I'll probably never meet.
Someone sketched a drawing while waiting for food to arrive. He or she left it behind for me to find. I love the detail around the eyeglasses. I also love that this isn’t a polished or “important” work of art. It’s just something awesome left behind by a talented someone I’ll probably never meet.

Eating out is like being in a play with a small amount of improv: the hostess seats me, the server takes my order, the food comes out; I eat, pay and leave. This restaurant improved the chances for a memorable experience by providing the tools for a tiny bit of whimsy to happen. Then, the patron who sat at the table used the tools to create something lovely. I admired it. Each of these elements; the tools, the creative mindset, and the awareness of others to catch the spark, plays a role in creating a thriving universe of possibility.

A year or so ago, before a massage at Healthy Touch Massage and Wellness, I used the restroom. A shelf in the corner held extra toilet paper, plastic flowers, and an intriguing enameled box. Curious, I opened it.

Every time I go for a massage I check to see if the note remains, or if someone has added a new thought. You never know.

Why did I open the box? I certainly didn’t expect to find this little note. I just wondered “what if?” I’ve never asked Norm, owner and exceptional neck tension specialist, if he knows about the note. But I check the box every time I treat myself to a massage. I’m hoping for a new message, some new gift from the universe. But why wait for someone else? Maybe next time I go, I’ll add a note of my own.

When I find money in my pants, I’m the one that put it there. Stepping into possibility means fostering the capability to both see the greatness in others, and to offer the best of myself. I am seeker, finder, and architect of wonder in a world full of possibility.

What delightful surprises have you found? What have you offered?


Author: Angela Noel

Seeker and promoter of awesome people and ideas.

27 thoughts on “What I Choose to Believe”

  1. What a beautiful post! I would like to say that the note was for YOU specifically, but it certainly fits. Thanks so much for sharing this with us . . . and feel free to add something of your own. I love pleasant surprises, too. Norm

  2. Angela – This is a fun post. Being aware of the little possibilities that enhance our everyday living gives a fresh dimension to our connection to others. Thanks for presenting these “possibilities” that lead to joy. Kathy

  3. Oh cool! Love the note in the box. What a great idea for any place of business, eh? Little surprises really are delights in life. Thanks for the reminder—thinking of some little notes I could leave right now…

  4. Wow, this is so random act of kindness oriented. Maybe the doodle art was indeed left for the next person, you in this case. Certainly the box has a magical aura; like, why a box? Clearly it wants to hold many messages with kind words for others to leave and see. What if people started doing these things all the time? Little things and notes left for total strangers? How many smiles might that simple thing raise in a life unknown to us?

    I think you should add to the box now too.

    Wonderful uplifting post!

    1. Thanks, Gary! You know I asked Norm about it the last time I went for a massage. He said the staff has taken to leaving new messages now and again. But, I tend to agree with you–what little things can we all do to make someone’s day?

      1. I rather like the magical idea of total strangers leaving little notes all over. Imagine walking to your car and finding a note under the windscreen simply saying “Have a happy day.” Although would people immediately think pervy stalker????? eek, hadn’t thought about that until now!

          1. ha-ha, trust you to think YES lol. Although, I can’t disagree with that too much :\

  5. What’s a beautiful post! The more I read about people’s experiences of finding a bit of art or a nice little note unexpectedly, the more I feel like doing an “art abandonment” kind of project. Where I can leave little scraps of art – a quick sketch, doodle, mandala – with a small word of encouragement. I think I should just start!

    1. Oh I agree! Please do something and write about it. I just read a blog post about an artist who paints flowers on scraps of paper he finds and pins or tapes them up on random street corners. And I once saw a video on Sesame Street of all places of an art project where a team of people use recycled plastic bags to create an air animal over a street vent. So much goodness! Can’t wait to see what you try!

  6. “Stepping into possibility means fostering the capability to both see the greatness in others, and to offer the best of myself” — probably my favorite thing I’ve ever read. You’ve opened my eyes, thank you.

  7. Oh wow. I love the message in the box. What a great idea. I love it when people spread positive affirmations out into the universe. It definitely causes a positive ripple, don’ t you think?

    1. I do. I don’t know many people who see something beautiful and think, “wow, I wish I hadn’t seen that.” A couple of years ago I decided I would commit to acting on the little ideas that pop into my head. Like if I see a stranger and I like her shirt–I’ll tell her. Or if I notice someone doing something nice, like picking up a stray piece of garbage I’ll tell them I appreciate it. Or if a co-worker is really doing a great job, I’ll send a note to his or her boss telling them what I saw. It’s little things, but they add up!

  8. I love these moments of serendipity Angela. Something small, simple and often unplanned falls across our path.

    These are the things that can most easily reset our frame of reference.

    I love that you encourage us to manufacture similar moments for others.

    1. I have to remind myself all the time that the smallest things can sometimes make the biggest impressions. I always appreciate your thoughtful comments. 🙂

  9. Thank you for a wonderful read, Angela! I love the way you word your writing, and your messages are so meaningful and fun to read. Isn’t it something when a small, positive gesture can have such a large, positive impact? These gestures, these acts of kindness sure do make life better.

    One of my favorites is giving a simple “Hi!” when out on a walk. Just the other day, a young teen was riding his bike down our street with his head down. I let out a “Hi there!”, and he looked at me a little surprised, but then a big smile broke out on his face as he responded with a kind “Hello.” His smile made me feel happy at the same time.

    1. I love your story! I think kindness can be a bit like those capsules we buy for kids. Soak them in water and a dinosaur or a robot sponge appears. In other words, its both exponential and transformative. 🙂 Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  10. Although this seems like a small concept, it has huge implications! Perspective is everything! I once wrote the following in one of my blog posts, partly in response to my son’s pessimism: ” you can view things positively or you can view things negatively. Choose to view them positively, because they always are!” I am also reminded about a great YouTube video I watched by a social psychologist who said biologically, humans tend to interpret the actions of others in a negative light while expecting others to assume the best intentions of themselves. For example, when someone cuts us off in traffic, we automatically assume they have an ill intent when that might very well not be the case. Great post, got me thinking!

    1. I had a boss long ago who said something like, “It’s so simple, it’s hard.” I think the idea that we choose our feelings is one of those-so simple, it’s hard. Sure our first reactions come from a deep “lizard brain” place. But after that, we get to employ the higher order functions that separate us as humans from other sentient animals. We can choose! What a revelation. I’m so glad you taught your son this lesson early–I’m endeavoring to teach mine the same thing.

I love hearing from you! Please share your thoughts.