In one of my courses a few years ago one of my participants was called Felice, which means « Happy ».
He was a nice fellow, but I didn’t think much of the meaning and the implications this name might have on the life of the person wearing it. Then I learned Italian, and the name took on a different meaning.
It turns out that Felice is in fact a happy person. Not a « bouncing-up and-down-in-the-street » kind of happy but a « simply-enjoying-the-little-pleasures-of-life » happy. Pleasures like smelling a particular brand of olive oil, tasting good wine or simply spending time with good friends.
I kept on using his name because I liked the sound and the meaning of the word. Thanks to that I realized that I liked being around people who use positive and elegant vocabulary. Things like, « that’s so pretty » to, « this is splendid » and, « what a nice thing to do ». These expressions make me seek the company of those who use them.
Now, I notice that these days when teenagers are surprised by something on a social network they’ll exclaim, « WTF? ». But wouldn’t you be more attracted to look over their shoulder if they said « this is fabulous! »?
The use of language is a gift. And you, are you also attracted to people who use words conveying well-being?
Cynic comments about politics, exasperation with the system and a corrosive humor and have seriously affected the nature of the conversations on the various social networks I participate in.
All the more reason to be surprised when I found a post on facebook one morning last week called « Good News! » A Mexican friend shared that a local Yucatan based cooperative he is supporting had been awarded a large contract by a hotel chain.
He then went on to explain that – as the amount of good news in the world by far outweighs the amount of bad news – we should all publish one or more good things that have happened to us, or that we have heard about recently. What a fabulous idea!
Discussing a tragic event can darken the energy in a room in a trice. Fortunately, discussing a positive one can lighten the energy just as quickly. It’s for us to decide which we want to encourage with our contributions.
So, what good things have happened to you recently? Have you had a blood test done and found your cholesterol numbers are down? – Congratulations! Are you showing a profit despite a difficult economic situation? – Nice one! Did you obtain the professional certification you were working on? – Kudos!
What is the good news in your life? Get out there and let people know.
In my seminars on negotiation I’ll often warn the participants, « don’t negotiate with yourself, talk to your clients instead ».
Having heard that, a participant in a seminar shared the following story:
A young man moves into a third-floor flat in a new building and passes his new next-door neighbor in the staircase. His neighbor, an older man, is struggling up the stairs with a grimace on his face. The young man says hello, and gets a curt response in return. He then continues to carry in his boxes, installs his furniture and then realizes that he cannot hang up his pictures because he can’t find his hammer.
The young man remembers his neighbor, and his menacing facial expression. Based on that, he thinks that he must not a be a very pleasant person… probably the party-pooper of the building… a retiree with nothing else to do than to spy on the neighbors… a lonely man, rejected by his own family… the kind of man who knocks on the wall if the music is too loud, or who sends a letter to other tenants to complain about kitchen odors in the hallway.
Already fed-up with having to deal with such a nasty neighbor, he forces himself to knock on his door to ask about the hammer. When the neighbor opens the door, the young man shouts at him: « Go stick your hammer where the sun don’t shine! »
That’s what can happen when you construct a complete story in your head from a fragment of information.
Ring any bells?
Paris – London – New York – Singapore. A list of locations for a luxury store? Nope. That was my itinerary for July. Exciting? You bet. And very tiring.
I had the impression that I spent most of my life in airports. Back when I started traveling I tried to keep all my travel waiting times to a minimum. My program was so crammed that I had to run incessantly to be on time. There was no margin for error, and I was constantly stressed. I lived with one eye on where I was going, and one eye on my watch.
Times have changed. With a bit of experience I’ve realized that trying to get the early flight home was fine, but that getting home two hours earlier didn’t fundamentally change my day. However trying to get to the earlier plane had the impact of putting me through an unsupportable amount of stress and irritability.
I have tons of things to do, true. I have also tons of « weird windows of time » that open up all over my day. Want to read a book, but don’t have the time? – that is what planes are for. Write an article for my blog? – easy, in the lounge. Need some time for a bit of meditation? – I fasten my seatbelt and relax in the back of a taxi.
Our smartphones, readers and other tablets offer us tremendous possibilities to fill those weird windows with productive activity, if we chose. For me, those windows are now opportunities to cross off the items on my next action list, to do nothing at all, or hang out with my family once I’m home.
And you? Do you dread the delays in your travel, or do you see them as opportunities?
I am enjoying a lovely meal by myself during a business trip in a Trattoria in Rome, and seated at the table next to me is an American couple. At a certain point, I hear the wife say to her husband that the server had forgotten to bring them any water.
Without much thought, I offer them some of my bottle of water, which I probably wouldn’t have been able to finish anyway. Touched by my offer, they suggest that I should try some of their wonderful chilled white wine.
I’m not sure if the proximity to the Vatican had anything to do with it, but somehow I transformed my water into wine! A miracle.
I probably didn’t understand the biblical story until that day, but thanks to that experience I realized that we can all transform water into wine – as long as we offer things with no thought of our own gain.
And you? Have you transformed water into wine in the last little while?