Tuesday October 7, 2008
Jessica Cain, business development manager, learnpurple
Being happy and positive comes in many forms, you can be happy because you just had a meal with someone you love, excited you got a promotion or smugly satisfied that your neighbours (who you dislike) just had a fence fall down in their back garden. What ever floats your boat! I have had a couple of experiences recently that got me thinking about being positive (and happy) and think this is definitely food for thought.
Many of you will live in a city and take public transport to work each day. For anyone who lives in London, public transport is rarely a positive, exciting or satisfying experience. But it does get you from A to B relatively efficiently. I know you might be wondering how I can be talking about positivity and have it somehow link to cramming into a compartment each morning and evening, like cattle being prodded and poked by people we don't know, and, mostly, wouldn't wish to know.
So I'll get to the point; it was my last morning of working in Central London (I'm moving to Bristol to have my baby and start a new branch). I was walking along a bridge by the station when I was suddenly struck with the most terrible cramp in my right leg. My body tightened through the pain and embarrassment. As I feared for my aching limb and also the possible fall down a huge flight of concrete stairs all I heard was 'Get out the ****ing way!' As I turned in disbelief that anyone could screech expletives at 7am in the morning, I was really struck by the fact that this person was a well dressed woman in her late 50s, with a posh accent and a brief case.
The stereotypical view would be that major lapses of social etiquette, aggression and rudeness are maybe expected from high spirited teenage gangs or drunks, though say to say lots of people make their choices to be negative, unhappy and angry and in doing so bring others down with their misery. For the rest of my day - which other then a little pain in the leg, literally, was originally going quite well, I felt as though I could quite easily be in a bad mood too. Of course, I chose not to be but that takes conscious effort.
So with this experience still in the back of my mind as an unsettling and negative start to the day, I was very pleasantly surprised by the extreme positivity that I experienced when out to lunch. In fact it shocked me into almost silent awe! (Not an easy thing for me, I assure you.)
Imagine the scene; me with two business associates taking lunch in a newish Mexican, market style restaurant in Covent Garden. I won't disclose the exact name but I am sure many of you have visited and I feel almost certain that a main reason for the huge queues up the stairs, out the door and spilling onto the street, like guacamole spilling over the top of a tortilla chip, is the happy atmosphere inside.
I have never seen so many happy people working in one place. Our waiter almost danced across the floor towards me (kinda reminded me of being a very happy Baby in 'Dirty Dancing' but then I was getting a bit too carried away with it all by then) - and placed our low fat pork scratchings on the table. He and his colleagues could not have looked happier to be taking orders, carrying food and pouring drinks. It was as if they were not only proud of where they worked but also relishing the positivity of their existences in this underground haven for chilli lovers.
I will go back to that restaurant and I will tell all I meet to go there. The air was so free of tension that even the challenging conversation being had by myself and my colleagues seemed light and easy. I made sure I told the waiter (not that I had had the time of my life) but that he had really made my day and this seemed to just increase his happiness. I asked him why he was so and positive and his reply was 'Why not. What have I got to be annoyed about? I really love my job and my friends who work here. It is just like hanging out.'
This again got me thinking. I was recently co-facilitating a session with a business around the development of their core values. The word 'Happiness' came up as a possible option. It was dismissed as being too simple and 'wishy-washy'. But in this world where it's sadly not the norm, this is what could set a business apart. It is the oldest and most solid of concepts.
There is so much doom and gloom around at the moment and I am not going to shrug off all the jobs that have been lost lately and I am not going to say that the thousands I have lost on the value of my house did not slightly ruffle my feathers, but I will choose to carry on and be positive and happy for what I have.
Maybe losing your job might be the push you needed to take on a new challenge; it might bring you closer to others, it might open a new door. Losing money on my property just made me realise that I should be happy that, at 24, I have my own house and can use my passion to keep striving to achieve more.
So choose not to let things get you down, look forward and upward and keep on the positive side of life. As the cliche goes 'Smile and the word smiles with you', it's so very true.
You cannot control what life throws at you. No amount of sadness or anger or foul language will get that eight-month pregnant heifer out of your way on the station bridge as she caresses her cramping thigh, but you could make someone's day by being positive, staying happy, loving what you do and letting the world know about it.