By Julianne Wargren
When I was growing up, one of my mother’s favourite sayings was ‘honey catches more flies than vinegar.’ To which either my brother or I would inevitably reply ‘who wants to catch flies.’ Yet despite our childish derision, her words and their true intent remain with me still today.
In an age where service seems to be more often an idea rather than a reality it is all too easy to become justifiably frustrated with the people in our lives whose role we perceive as being to serve us. At least I know I’m guilty of this and I’m sure I’m not alone. Yet how often does expressing frustration result in a better service and how often does it just result in more frustration, along with a hefty rise in blood pressure?
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t expect the best. Of course we should. But we should also offer the best of ourselves to those around us. So I’m having a bad day, or even a bad week or month or year, I’m not going to make it any better by sharing my misery around. And I’ve learnt by trial and error, many times over, that getting upset with someone over bad service, no matter what they do to fix it, never results in me feeling better about myself.
The other day at the supermarket I decided to try a different approach. I watched as the checkout assistant became more and more frustrated by the customers in front of me and line behind me grew longer and long. When I got to the front of line, instead of complaining about the wait, I thanked the checkout assistant for being so patient with the other customers. You should have seen the size of the smile I got back. Even thinking about it now still makes a big grin sweep across my face. Suddenly she felt acknowledged, recognized, valued … all the things that we so sorely need but so rarely receive. Did I get any better service from her than the people in front of me? Who knows. Did I feel a whole heap better about my interaction with her? You better believe I did!!!
At the heart of this is our primal need to matter. The need that, in the time we walk this mortal path, we lay down lasting tracks that say to future generations ‘I was here and I made a difference.’ We are all aware how important inclusion is. How being the wallflower at a dance, or the person in the corner at a party or the last one picked for a team can destroy our self esteem. But recently I heard of a study that showed even acknowledgement by strangers can change for the better how we feel about our lives.
Now I am making it my mission to change the world one smile at a time. It doesn’t take much, just smiling at random strangers I pass in the street. Saying hello to someone I pass on my morning walk. Smiling and thanking the person looking after the desk at the gym. Wishing the lady at the school crossing a great day. Thanking the bus driver as I jump off the bus. It takes so little effort, but it gives so much back to me. I feel good because I’m appreciating everything around me and the smiles and kind words that I get back every so often are an unexpected bonus.
So here is my challenge to you – join me in changing the world one smile at a time. Smile at a stranger, thank someone who is just doing their job and be amazed at how the world starts to feel like a better place.
And to get you started – here is your first random smile from me to you 🙂
To read more of Julianne’s work please visit her blog at : I blog therefore I am.