Enthusiasm is contagious. I was recently checking out at Whole Foods Market and the cashier commented on something my wife and I bought. She had used it in cooking and really enjoyed it. By then, the person doing the bagging joined in and offered a recipe. For a moment the customer-employee relationship vanished, as did the fact we were in a business transaction. There were just people having a fun conversation over a shared interest.
On a crowded airline flight, one of the Southwest crew really made an impression. It wasn’t what she said, which wasn’t unique, and she was not one of the clever comics who make funny announcements. It was how she said it. We’ve all heard scores of one-dimensional how-are-yous and thank-yous, which might as well be automated recordings. In this case, the same words took on a three-dimensional quality that made you feel there was someone in that uniform who actually wanted to know and wanted to thank you. This type of real interchange happens so infrequently, especially in a mass service setting, that it really makes you take notice. It also makes you feel good, like coming home and being greeted by a happy puppy who had been waiting for you so that he could share his happiness.
Apparently, happiness can be found anywhere. Maybe it isn’t found. Perhaps happiness arises from within and is “found” when it’s shared.
It is certainly easy to share irritation while performing tasks that we may consider uninteresting, boring, tedious or stressful; but somehow, these strangers doing repetitive work ended up making me feel better. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “In the order of nature we cannot render benefits to those from whom we receive them, or only seldom. But the benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody.” Seems like good advice for a new year. Wishing you all the best.
I’d like to know what you think.
Ken Whitman is president of Natural Vitality, a purpose-driven nutritional products company. Natural Vitality publishes Organic Connections as a public service as part of its Natural Revitilization efforts.