Do You Notice the Amazing Sunset or Worry About the Flat Toothbrush?

You know those people who never quit smiling? Who sugar coat even the worst news and serve it up with a vacant mask of a smile? Those people are just icky. Equally intolerable, though, are the ones who  always expect the worse, can’t stand kids or puppies, have innumerable health problems that they don’t mind talking about, hate their jobs and their spouses – should they be so lucky – and whine about how they just don’t have any good luck, ever.


Most of us fall in the middle of the miserable to happy spectrum and tend to lean to one side more one day than the next. In my life, I’ve been lucky to know two people who were able to gently remind everyone around them to look on the bright side. One was my mom and the other my aunt Betty. They were sisters-in-law, and passed away years apart, but both of them had amazingly wonderful attitudes without being falsely cheerful.


The world is a less shiny place without the two of them in it, but they did leave some lasting reminders to pay attention to the good stuff. People share their favorite stories about those who are gone and a couple that I’ve been told about these two cross my mind regularly. Stories about Mary Ann and Betty almost always bring smiles, just like the two of them did in actuality.


My mom and one of her friends, Nancy, had been shopping one afternoon and were on their way home.  Nancy said that as they were riding along, she was complaining about all the stuff everyone always complains about – kids, bills, work, all the things that make life hard. It was right at sunset and my mom interrupted her to say, “Would you just look at that sunset? Have you ever seen anything so pretty? Wow. Just look at that!” We lived on a mountain, so no doubt, the view of the sunset really was stunning. Nancy told me that now, every time she catches herself complaining, she thinks about that day and remembers to look up and see what kind of amazing beauty she is missing.

Just yesterday, someone told me that Betty gave her a similar reminder. Our entire family, probably 60 or more people, took a camping trip to Dauphin Island one year on Easter weekend. A trip like that is rare for us – in fact, it’s the only one I remember – so it was really special. Nellie, another aunt, said that she got up on Saturday morning, and walked to the bathhouse with Betty, complaining about how her tooth brush got flattened in her bag, how a pine cone poked her through the tent floor all night, how yukky showering in a bathhouse is, and on and on. Betty looked at her and laughed and said, “Well, Nellie, you’re just not a happy camper today, are you?” Nellie said just that simple question reminded her of how nice it was to be with her family, at the beach, camping with a bathhouse and everything else that was good about that moment.


Right now is an easy time to be angry. Most of us have something to legitimately complain about. The ridiculousness of the United States congress, the insanity of the stock market, the fear of a “double dip” recession, and so many more events happening all over the world have many of us on edge. If your business is down, your income is down, and it’s possible that your attitude is down, too – with good reason.


While I don’t suggest that you slap a fake smile on or pretend to feel something you do not, I do firmly believe that your business will benefit if you take some time everyday to appreciate the good stuff. When you do your work fully cognizant of the beauty all around you, every person you interact with notices. It is seriously doubtful that either Mary Ann or Betty was aware of the lasting lessons they taught us just by being themselves.


Small talk is inevitable. What does yours say about you? Are you fearful or angry? Do you have a positive outlook that your customers or prospects can pick up on and feel good about? No matter how tough things are there are still sunsets to appreciate.

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