Not long ago, I called a friend of mine, Les Brown, whose daily voice mail message absolutely changed my own response for the day. In his very pragmatic and encouraging way, he suggested that it was possible to have a whole different experience every day, including those days we label “Mondays” with one simple action. To each query “How are you?” he suggested the response should be, “I’m great and I’m grateful!”
Would you estimate that you are asked 5-15 times a day how you are by business acquaintances, family and friends? This question is the starting point for most conversations from telemarketers to your girlfriends. We have all been known to growl at the telemarketers that we would be wonderful if they would just leave us alone. And, it is a rare occasion that we tell our friends that everything is great, instead believing that they have assumed the role of support which mandates listening to all of the challenges in our lives. I’m as guilty as the next person when I’m on overwhelm and reciting the “List!”
But what if we simply answered that we were “Great”, with no explanatory follow-up, no modification, no backsliding and no tweaking? Is it possible that we might actually begin to believe it ourselves? You know, the walk the talk, fake it till you make it approach. This approach doesn’t work for either us or our listeners if we qualify our words. It only works if we say it with enthusiasm and with a smile on our faces and then stop. And, it doesn’t matter if they can see you on Skype or FaceTime, they can still feel your smile and the conviction.
I have worked at being in a state of grace by writing down a handful of things I am grateful for each morning, or whispering them to myself before I fall asleep each night. But, until I listened to Les’ voicemail message, it hadn’t occurred to me that I was actually supposed to tell complete strangers that I was Grateful. After all, by saying it out loud, the next question would logically be, “For what?” And then I might actually have to open up and talk about more than the weather. But isn’t that what we hope for when we go to networking groups? To build a support network of people who trust and connect with each other, returning again and again to exchange services, advice and assistance because of the relationship they have created?
So, I have been trying out my new response and hoping it will become a habit. It’s not always that easy and some days it’s a real stretch but, I have noticed that this attitude does rub off on those around you. When you say you are great and grateful you immediately nip in the bud the contest that is generally initiated when the first person starts their “List” which then must be compared to the other person’s “List” in attempt to make them feel better. The end result of the conversation is that both people feel exhausted, rather than inspired or regenerated, with the exchange. When you say you are grateful even if it’s just for beautiful weather, that your child got an A on his exam or that amazing piece of chocolate pie at lunch, it lifts the other person up and the two of you are able to have a conversation which is energetically light years different.
I’m great! And, as always, I’m grateful that I have been given a new lesson to practice and that I have you to share it with.