This is Jacob. Well, it’s not actually Jacob. I agreed not to publish his picture on social media but he looks a lot like this. I met Jacob a couple years ago when he was fully-functioning, elderly gentleman to one who is helped by a caregiver, going from place to place with the assistance of a walker. The one thing that has not changed, as his physical abilities have started to fade with age, was his smile and laughter. Every time he came and sat with me at the bank, he would bring an aura of joy with him. There were a few times when the financial situations that he brought to me were not the best for someone who was on a fixed income, but he never failed to bring a smile to my face and brighten my day. I would be having a hectic day full of unhappy people with loads of complaints, and Jacob would always make me feel better. He never intended to come into the bank to save me. He came in for my expertise, yet he was the one who taught me more than I could learn in a book or in a seminar.
“Mike, I love you, and I love everybody.”, he said in a thick Indian accent and breaking out into a contagious bout of laughter the last time he sat with me.
I have decided to spread what he gave to me, Joy. We all have days when we feel that the next thing that goes wrong is going to be the last straw. We are out. We are done. Fuck it! We quit! It doesn’t have to be that way. There is a better place to choose to live life from each day. We can bring joy to the people we come to in contact with each day. When I tried that, I ended up taking myself from a bad place in my head to a place of levity, happiness and contentment.
The thing about attitudes are that they are contagious. You can change your world by whichever way you choose to experience it. Jacob came from a place of joy, so he got exactly that, Joy!
I decided to try this out when I went Christmas shopping this year. In a prior life, I had worked in retail sales, so I knew what it was like to live through the long hours of people battling against time to buy gifts for their loved ones. I was buying some gift boxes, and when it came to my turn to pay, I joked with the cashier saying, “Is that it! For all of that?!” smiling and chuckling as the words came out. He laughed and started to tell me about how much he was surprised himself. We talked briefly about our holiday plans and wished each other a Merry Christmas. The feeling I got from that was like a drug, and I knew I had to try it some more. The hell with the long lines that I had to wait in. It wasn’t the cashier’s fault. I didn’t have to take my frustrations out on them. I chose to turn their day around, and it turned mine around as a result.
This is an experiment and work in progress. However, I guarantee it works no matter how the other person reacts. I know it as a fact. A few months ago, I was alone in Washington D.C., walking to my conference, and I was in the dumps. I wasn’t used to being in such a big city where no one would look at you as you passed them on the street. I hated it! I needed to feel connected, so devising a mischievous plan, I decided to try to make eye contact, smile and say “HI!” to each person I passed on the street. I’m still a single guy, so I favored the women more than the men. Each person, I tried my plan. I was ignored a lot, shot a lot of confused glances but I got one or two people to smile. I laughed a lot on the way and went into the hotel where the conference was being held. I didn’t care about the results because I tried to make others smile. I chose to spread my joy to others, and the day was a great one for me.
It’s a new year. There are a million possibilities in store for you this next year. The wonderful thing about it is that you get to chose how you will live it. I invite you to try something new and make life better for others. It may just surprise you what it will do for you.