Pizza delivery and smiling faces…

The day started off dismal.  It started with droplets of rain.  The drive to work was a staring contest.  No eye blinking just in case someone slammed on their brakes.  Stop, go.  Stop, go, speed up, get excited about time gained…slam brakes.  Yup, one of those mornings.  I had enjoyed my weekend and decided that 5 hours sleep would be fine.  Nope.  After 40 years of life those hours of sleep suddenly become diamonds in the rough…sought after desires and rarely achieved.  This was how my sad misadventurous day began.

It was Monday.  As all Americans know, Monday is the worst day of the week.  It is blabbed about, gossiped about, ruled as the “worst day of the week”.  Everything bad happens on Mondays.  Even if you had a wonderful weekend full of relaxation or fantastic outings, the coming of another work week puts many people into a foul mood.  Why?  Very simply…negativity.

Being a school teacher, back in the early ’90’s, I learned how to praise children (not condemn), I learned that I received more positive feedback from the children when I had good things to say instead of constantly nagging about the bad things and the errors they had made.  Now, if school is supposed to prepare our children for the real world, shouldn’t we be telling them that they aren’t performing to their full capacity?  Is it not our job to tell them that although they have an 8 hour workday, they should work longer (with no extra pay) because they take pride in their work and it’s not about money?  As responsible adults, we should tell them that their failure is much more memorable than anything they have accomplished?  Failure leads to more memorable gossip and makes everyone else feel better about themselves.  Yes, there should be a “Reality Course” for young children, middle class children, and high school children.  NOT!

The most wonderful experience with teaching children and being around children is their genuine optimism.  Yes they have their cranky days when their hair isn’t right or the shirt you pulled out for them is NOT what they want to wear.  Devastating isn’t it?  I personally love hearing what children find sad and what makes them happy.  We grow up and forget what our naive youthful selves used to find wonderful.  Let’s explore.

Weeds?  Nowadays I can’t find a strong enough poison to kill dandelions.  As a child, that was the bouquet of roses that I presented lovingly to my mother.  Clover?  Well, look for the four-leaf clover for luck right?  Nope, try to mow it down and make it go away.  Sand?  Don’t get me started.  The gift that keeps giving right?  All over the house, in their body cracks…it spills out constantly.  Mud?  Oh my…another phobia…until I saw little 1 1/2 year old La-la sit in the dirt, bucket and shovel in hand.  Pretty useless since she really wanted a mud bath.  Oh yeah…that child was warrior ready, with mud all over her hair and face and body.  Also, she was very happy of her accomplishment.  Which brings me to my accomplishment on a Monday.

After a nice, happy weekend, Monday was here and it was time to commute to work and begin another frantic, hectic week.  Many deadlines and too many items to have done with a limited timeline.  Usual week.  One of the weird items to be done on Mondays is to order food for new trainees.  Not a big job.  As long as my internet connection is top speed it goes well.  Often, it does not work.  No surprise, but having it work well makes me happy.  (Yes, lower my expectations and the little achievements are like climbing Everest…sorry climbers).  This Monday was no different as I rushed to click and order.  Regular job day, but the result was different.

As delivery man showed up, I had the pile of food placed on a table.  I had the credit card ready to process.  I gabbed and smiled and laughed with the delivery man…no point in dragging him into my drama day.  He had been delivering here for the last two Mondays.  I thanked him for the hot food and delivering on time and he said, “I like delivering here.  You always have such a big smile and it makes my day.”  Wha what?”  I thought.  I know I try to make everyone feel comfortable and even on a bad day I try not take it out on others.  For some reason, having a total stranger tell me that I made their day, made me forget about my miserable day.

I made the conscious effort, yet again, to find the positive in my day.  Many of us are overworked.  Our jobs and perfection at our jobs debilitates us.  We curse ourselves and berate ourselves when things go wrong.  That idea of perfection…who actually defines it?  We are our worst critics.  We are our hardest judges.  We…need to stop criticizing ourselves and find the things we do well and pat ourselves on the back.  We are our own worst enemy or our own best friend.  It is up to us (ourselves) to decide our life worth.

Today I thank Pizza Delivery Guy for giving me a simple compliment.  He really did mean it and I really did appreciate it.  It’s nice to know that compassion and camaraderie still exists.

Scene opens: (Doorbell rings)

Wiseguy:  Hey nice to see you again!  (he and pizza delivery guy practice new words in a European language)

Pizza Delivery Guy:  Yes we have been very busy.

Wiseguy:  Thanks!  See you soon!

Pizza Delivery Guy:  Yeah…see you next week!

(Note 1:  PDG says next week.  Pizza delivery is NOT a weekly thing.)

(Note 2:  Ok, it is a weekly thing and we love pizza and our PDG is a super nice guy.  Nuff said!)

Wiseguy and I are appreciative of all things around us.  We do appreciate helpful people and we let them know it.

As for my pizza guy, thanks so much for making my dismal Monday a memorable day for me.  It’s nice to be appreciated for something as simple as a smiling face.  : )

P.S.  Wiseguy’s Pizza Guy and my Pizza Guy are two different people in two different cities.  Any situations and similarities are coincidental.  Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Perspective…Pollyanna syndrome

As syndromes go, most of them have a negative connotation.  Diseases and abnormalities are the first to spring to mind when someone mentions a syndrome.  Then there is Pollyanna syndrome.  I think it’s a good syndrome to have.  For those who have never heard of it, it’s where you look for the positive instead of the negative in a situation.  This happy syndrome is particularly difficult to find in our adult species as we find laughter in sarcasm and belittling of others.  Our daily news stories focus on the ill luck and devastation in our world.  When talking to co-workers, conversations usually begin with the overwhelming work and stress in our jobs.  When talking to family it usually starts off with a complaint about chores or errands or misbehaving children.  Today I hit up your fragile exhausted mind with “Pollyannaism”.

I grew up in the age of black and white television.  There was one television set for the whole family to share and watch.  I don’t recall watching many shows.  I do remember anxiously awaiting Sunday because that was when “The Wonderful World of Disney” would be on.  I hoped for cartoons, but sometimes there would be a movie that we would watch.  One day we watched a movie called “Pollyanna”.  It had an incredible effect on my life.  For those who did not grow up sitting cross-legged watching Walt Disney, get comfortable as I tell you the tale of Pollyanna.  (Ok, this is the quickie version because you don’t have all day and attention spans nowadays are like the flight of the flitting hummingbird.)

Pollyanna was an orphan.  She went to live with her cranky aunt.  Auntie was a miserable bitty.  Pollyanna drove Auntie nuts because she was always happy and finding the silver lining in everything around her.  Her father had taught her the “Glad Game”.  No matter how crappy something was, find the positive in it.  This started when, at Christmas, the church sent a “toy-box-for-poor-kids” to her and she discovered crutches.  She had wanted a doll.  Pops said “Be glad you don’t need them.”  Get it?  Be “glad”…hence began the “Glad Game”.  (I’m sure most of you got it).  Anyhoo…ol’ bitty kept playing mean tricks on goody-two shoes Polly like locking her in the crappy attic. Happy Polly LOVED the view from the window (silver lining right?).  Grrr.  Ok, WHAM!  No soup for you!  (Seinfeld reference haha).  Polly had to sit in the kitchen with the servant and eat bread and milk.  No problem!  Wee P loved milk and bread AND she enjoyed the servant’s company.  Fast forward to big summation.  (If you want the details watch the movie or read the book.)  Chatty Pollyanna wanders around the town using her rose-coloured view of the world to change everyone’s perspective of their lives.  The grouches become grinners.  The misers become wealth sharers.  Foes become friends.  You get the idea.  There’s a part where Pollyanna gets hurt.  She gets sad and feels crummy and then all the old grumpalumps who are now new grinners come and “Pollyanna-ise” her.  HA!  A taste of her own medicine and she’s good as new.  The end.  (There!  Not too painful right?)

It seems to me that complaining and criticizing has become a fashionable way to analyze and speak about events and people around us.  When we first learn sarcasm we feel like adults because we have watched and learned from our elders how to gossip, criticize and ridicule.  It’s funny making fun of others right?  Teasing is done just to get a laugh even if that person’s feelings get hurt.  When you share distressful news, most people would rather jump on that Bandwagon of Misery and help bring you down further.  Why would someone try to help you find the bright side and a positive resolution?  True friends actually will, but true, honest friends are very difficult to find.  Why?  Well, with all the gossiping and stories being told you’re not sure if they do the same behind your back so who can you really trust?

Today I challenge (or dare) you to work at changing your perspective.  I can honestly tell you it’s not as easy as it sounds.  It’s easier to fall back on complaining about things than to stop, think and find the silver lining.  Let’s work through some examples:

  • Situation:  You’re late for a meeting and you’re stuck in traffic because of a car accident somewhere further up the road.
  • Usual reaction:  FML!  Why does this always happen to me?
  • New reaction:  choose any of the following:
    • I hope that person is ok.
    • At least I get to listen to my audio storybook CD for a bit longer.
    • Wow, look at that beautiful sky!

True, it won’t get you to work faster, but can you change the traffic situation?  No.  So instead of feeling angry or miserable about it, find the positive.

  • Situation:  You come home late from work (thanks to said car accident).  Dinner is going to be late.  The kids are cranky, the dog needs walking, you’re exhausted.
  • Usual reaction:  FML!  I’m too tired to deal with this!
  • New reaction:  choose any of the following
    • I am grateful to have made it home safely.
    • My kids are cranky, but they are safe and I’m grateful that they are in my life.
    • My dog is always happy to see me.

Crazy?  Maybe.  Easy? Heck no!  Start by catching yourself and trying to alter that maniacal evil thought into something that will make you grin and laugh.  I promise, your days will be happier and brighter.  You will find more joy in your surroundings and you will also find, that you will stop hanging out with Negative Nellie’s because you will start attracting the Positive Polly(anna)’s into your life.

Anyone up for a round of “Glad Game”?  I’ll start…I’m so glad I have finished writing this and sharing it with you.

You’re turn.