I don’t wish to be buried, but if I were I do wonder what the epitaph on my tombstone might say. “She always appreciated good grammar.” “Here lies one sassy woman.” “Even in death, she was quite punctual.”
What is it that we want to be remembered for? We each have countless quirks and steadfast beliefs for which we stand firm. Are you a lover of animals? A humanitarian? A teacher? A spiritual guide? When it comes time to eulogize you, how will someone encapsulate the very essence of you in a 10 minute speech? I wonder.
Over the years, I’ve decided I would make my mark in one simple way that can be broadly applicable to any situation. It is this: I want those who have spent time with me to feel better after than they did before. Bit by bit, minute by minute, interaction by interaction, I want to elevate the energy field of the world around me. That’s it. It’s realistically my only goal.
And while it sounds simple, it is not always so. I manage people, and people can be tough – what with their personalities and dysfunctions and deep, unwavering commitment to their misery and such. Not only do I manage people, I manage them in an environment that is stressful, contentious, often demoralized and sometimes downright impossible. To maintain an environment that leaves people feeling better than when they entered it is no small task. But it is a task I take seriously.
My basic work philosophy is that it is not only possible – but rather, it is necessary – to work hard and have fun at the same time. Maybe I carry it too far – maybe there is such a thing as too much levity – but I want people walking through the halls of our workplace to hear echoes of erupting laughter. I want people to feel joyful about the difficult work that we do, and to celebrate the small triumphs that are the result of our efforts. I want people to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the goodness in their hearts transformed into action has in fact made the world better.
For years I’ve referred to this intervention of mine as “Vitamin J.” If someone is having a bad day, a bad week or a bad life, it’s nothing that a little Vitamin J can’t help. Vitamin J encompasses a myriad of ingredients. It might just be a concerned, listening ear. It usually involves reflecting the good the person has done and a sincere compliment or two. It almost always involves a laugh, especially at the absurd. Vitamin J is offered in regular doses and is always on the lookout for those who are woefully deficient. Never fear, Vitamin J can also be delivered upon request.
I was once at work standing by the mailboxes and two employees were having a conversation I could overhear, though they had no idea I was standing there. One employee was lamenting how terrible her day had been. The other listened and then offered, “Sounds to me like you need some Vitamin J.” My heart swelled with pride in that moment right there. A little time with me had become the antidote for what ails ye. How cool is that?
Do I think I have something special to offer? Truthfully, I do. But the secret to all of this is that everyone has
their own version of Vitamin J to offer the world if they try hard enough. Our society has developed a sorry habit of focusing on the negatives in life, but it needn’t be that way. Take the time to watch as others make their way in this complicated life. Recognize that everyone has some colossal piece of luggage they are carrying around with them day in and day out, filled with their problems and their sorrows. And then take a moment to elevate your energy, say a kind word, pay a compliment, tell a funny story or give a hug. It’s the easiest and best thing you can do to make the world a better place. And not only that, you just might make your own heart sing.