I was at Costco, shopping for stuff and had a pleasant encounter with a fellow shopper. We were both trying to maneuver our overloaded carts through the crowded aisles. I stopped to let her get by, and she stopped to let me get by. We exchanged pleasantries and went on our paths to the checkout counter. At the checkout, there was a gruff looking cashier. No smile, no greeting, just shoving stuff from one end of the belt to the other. I thought, had I not wished him properly, was I not smiling when he made eye contact, but later decided that he was just being himself. I told myself ‘If one does not judge sunsets, why judge people ?’ (yes yes I am getting there, I have to repeat this mantra often enough). No amount of cheer would have evoked happiness in him. I let it be. Atleast, I thought I did.
I got home and sat for meditation in the evening. The first image in my mind’s eye was that of the cashier. This begged a question – why was I so focused on the negative events and not on the positive encounter?I am sure many of us have had this problem. Focus on the one person who did not wish you Happy Birthday, and forget the 99 who did. Perhaps it had something to do with how our brains evolved I reasoned- a question better answered by Yuval Harari. In the meantime, I started looking for how to overcome this trait.
I came across a Smile File concept in the book ‘The Little Book of Lykke’ – Meik Wiking. Fortune Magazine had named (do not know when) Ruby Receptionists as the #1 small company to work for. One of the reasons being, their adoption of The Smile File concept. Every new employee is given a Smile File in which they record every praise, positive comment they received from anyone that day. The idea being – focus on what you have vs. what you do not.
What a nice addition to my life. I am starting a Smile File asap. Just thinking is not enough scientists say, there is power in the written word, so I am writing it down on paper with ink.
I urge you to keep one as well.