“Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.” – Wendell Berry
It was raining outside the restaurant. When the waitress brought over my lunch, she repeated my order as she put it on the table – “Grilled cheese sandwich and (long pause) chicken noodle soup.”
“Needed my soup on a day like this. “ I replied with a smile.
She looked at the table and added with a slight chuckle, “I see you remembered your milk. Your mother would be proud.”
“Well, I’m still a growing boy!” At which point we both laughed.
The employee bussing the next table joined in, “We always see extra orders of grilled cheese on rainy days.”
“What about the chicken soup?”
“Sometimes, but always grilled cheese. I bet we break the record today.” Then she walked away smiling. I nodded to the person at the neighboring table who clearly overheard the situation. They took that as a signal they could ask about the book I was reading. A necessary meal on the road turned into an enjoyable 30 minutes.
Think of how different my lunch would have been if I just replied with a curt “thank you” when the waitress brought over my meal. Or worse, if I’d said nothing at all. I would have missed the opportunity to talk with another person about their day. The chance to meet a stranger who is also interested in leadership. The chance to have someone remind me about my mother.
The expression “opposites attract” is only true with magnets. Every magnet has a positive and negative pole. The opposite poles attract each other, and the like poles repel.
The inverse is true for humans. Very few upbeat people will look at someone with a bad attitude and think, “I’ll join them!” In fact, most people will avoid anyone who is mean or rude. However, they’ll be drawn to the person with a smile and an optimistic outlook. They want to get to know the person who sees the beauty in life.
As these ideas ran through my mind, I thought about my friend, Heather. Her Instagram feed is a reservoir of positivity. She posts beautiful photos from her running route, always including the hashtag “#runhappy”. Even better are her posts about interacting with other people, which often includes the reminder “#bekind”.
This isn’t just an online presence. I’ve had the opportunity to meet Heather and share dinner with a group of friends. She engaged everyone at the table, whether she knew them, or this was the first introduction. Her stories of life with her husband and family were punctuated with laughs and smiles.
Heather’s positive attitude carries over to her job. As the president of Auntie Anne's – of delicious pretzels fame – she’s been able to assemble a team of “positive professionals” – people who are excited about doing their best at their job. A true leader, Heather spends a good deal of her time visiting local stores; always taking time to show her gratitude for the employees who serve the customer at the counter. Every photo at every stop includes her trademark smile.
By making a conscious decision to be positive, to be happy and to be kind to others, Heather becomes a magnet for positivity, happiness and kindness. By adopting her attitude – and her actions – we can attract the same type of people into our lives.