#98: Walks on the beach

#98: Walks on the beach

In a quick vacation update, I share a lesson learned from running into my daughter while walking on the beach.

These weekly updates share life with OCD as part of my Mental Work Health project to reduce stigma around mental health, especially at work.


My daughter and I were walking together on the beach looking for seashells. After the sun set (yes, it was a cute moment), we were headed back to the parking lot. As we walked, we kept bumping into each other.

After that happened a few times, I chuckled to myself, thinking, “Oh, daughter. You can’t even walk in a straight line.”

Then I almost laughed out loud.

Who was to say that she was the one that wasn’t walking straight? If we were repeatedly bumping into each other, then it was just as likely that I wasn’t going straight.

But then another thought hit me.

What if we were both walking straight? What if that was the problem?


I was struck by how often this kind of situation happens to us in our lives outside the beach. We were both headed in the same direction. We were trying to go to the same place. But we kept causing problems for each other because our trajectory was just a little off from each other’s.

So many times, we instinctually blame someone else for crashing into us. We may even think we are doing better when we can see our own fault. But we miss the fact that we are not in competition. We are trying to accomplish the same thing, just in a slightly different way.

When we realize that is happening, the simplest move is for us to make a small adjustment. Instead of expecting the other person to change to adapt to us, just match their heading. Ideally, they don’t even realize that there was an issue because we see it and adjust so quickly.


Over this next week, the challenge for me, and hopefully you as well, is to look for opportunities to match someone else. Notice when you are bumping into someone, and pause to ask if you are headed in the same direction. Can you make a small tweak to make someone else’s life easier?

This can be an exercise in compassion if we will embrace it that way. The more we look for these moments, the more we will find them.

Manage your subscription