Chinese proverb: “You cannot prevent the birds of sadness from passing over your head, but you can prevent them from making a nest in your hair”
Went out for dinner and drinks this past weekend with some friends. After a delicious meal topped off with a frosty Guinness, we decided to move on to a local bar. There we were greeted by a friendly young server, named Annie (name is fictitious to protect the server’s identity). After she introduced herself, she very matter-of-factly, asked “What is something good that has happened to you today?”
Unaccustomed to such a query, especially from a perfect stranger, all three of us stammered as we mentally went through our day to find an appropriate answer.
As the Guinness flowed, we became curious about this little ray of sunshine serving our table. The next time Annie stopped by, my dear friend B said to her “Tell us something good that has happened to you today.” Annie kindly obliged saying that she had spent time that day with either her mother or grandmother (very sweet). I’m afraid the Guinness had dulled my hearing a bit, or maybe it’s my memory.
My curiosity and interest in human psychology got the better of me. It was such a thought provoking question posed in such a commonplace situation.
“I am very intrigued,” I said. “What made you start asking this question?”
It turned out that a while back, Annie had been gifted a leadership class. Even her describing the class as having been a gift rather than simply she had taken the class, seemed to convey much about this philosophical young woman. She proceeded to tell us that in this leadership class she learned that we humans have between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day with about 80 percent of those thoughts being negative.
Now, I’m not sure of the actual scientific research behind such a claim but who was I to argue? Besides, she was bringing our beers. She went on to share that she had recently graduated college with a major in dance and a minor in health services. I have to admit, that struck me as a bit incongruous, but if dance brings you joy and you want to make a career of helping people, maybe she’s onto something.
Anyway, long story short, she explained that as a server she interacts with a lot of people, folks from a wide variety of backgrounds and undoubtedly bringing with them a myriad of moods. Annie, in her youthful exuberance for life and connection, felt that she could play a small yet poignant role in balancing those negative thoughts by encouraging her customers to think of something good, if only for a moment.
She said that she always gets a positive response from her patrons and I’m sure some of the stories help make her evenings more pleasant as well.
I applauded her effort and as we left the bar we all wished her well. I have to admit too, that our encounter with Annie has stayed with me, and I feel a little more uplifted from having met her.