My daughter and I decided to grab something to eat at the Diner. We were in a pms, extra-chocolate, highly unhealthy frame of mind. As I was debating over whether or not to go for the chocolate shake with whipped cream-they give you the silver cup thing with it so you get extra milkshake… the waitress arrived at the table.
She bounced to the table.
She bounced and smiled.
She bounced and smiled and said, “HOWDY LADIES, HOW Y’ALL DOIN’?”
Like happy like.
I looked at my daughter and she looked at me.
We smiled, extra-big smiles at the waitress and said, “Um, fine and you?”
Barbara (I asked her her name) replied, “Just great and so happy to have a job! Here are the menus, and I’ll be right back to take your order! Now you ladies just take your time!”
I think she did a combination wink-smile-skip as she left the table.
I looked at my daughter.
She looked at me.
So, that was what happiness looked like. I didn’t think I could remember the last time I actually saw an energized, bouncy person who ….smiled.
I performed a major act of carpe diem and asked my daughter what made her happy. She replied, “Getting good grades, watching k-pop videos, getting the role I want in the theater play, coffee ice-cream cones, sky blue snowballs, a pimple free period, and going out to lunch with Grandma.”
I loved that my daughter appreciated moments and not just achievements.
Some of my happiest moments were with my grandparents: my Pop taking me to Dunkin’ Donuts for hot chocolate and a blueberry muffin with butter before my weekly ballet class, my Grandma’s chicken corn soup and salad, her extra-smooth skin and long, manicured nails that always played with my curls. She was famous for fighting with my Pop, snoring, burning brisket and holding my hand during every single one of my difficult moments. She would tell me how beautiful I was so often that I began to believe her. Then, I left for college and the real world, and our visits became less frequent. I talked to her as much as possible on the phone, and she always ended our conversations with, “Love you, honey”, and I know how much you love me, too.” She was my happy place, and the memories she gave me, gave birth to an ability to create memories and moments with my kids. I keep her with me, always.
At a certain point in my life, I met a random man who everytime I saw him would ask the same question, “Hi, are you happy?” For some reason that question irritated me, and I could not put my finger on the reason. A few years later, after recognizing my exasperated state of unhappiness, and taking my happy back, I got it. Happy is not a passive state of being, but an active frame of mind, because happy is a conscious choice on a daily basis that takes energy, commitment, willpower and one major power ingredient: loving yourself.
I didn’t order the shake, I had coffee instead.
And by the end of the meal, Barbara had thoroughly exhausted us.
She managed to maintain the same high level of happy the entire duration of our dining experience.
As did my daughter and I.
Smiles are highly contagious, totally effective and simple to share.
Go spread smiles.
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