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Every weekend, I indulge in a carbohydrate-rich day of feasting that I affectionately call “Faturday.” Since I abstain from most breads, pastas, and grains during the week, I really look forward to my one day of unabashed carb consumption.

This past weekend, I went to one of my favorite bagel shops with the intent of devouring a bagel loaded up so fully with cream cheese, lox, and whitefish salad that, if thrown at someone’s head with sufficient force, it could result in an immediate loss of consciousness.

I was excited and, just to be clear, I mean to eat the bagel, not commit bagel assault.

When I walked in, I was full of joy and smiles. I walked up to the counter and let the person behind the desk know that a bagel bonanza was about to go down. This was, of course, going to be a special, off-menu, bagel requiring several modifications in the computer system.

I’m going to skip ahead and let you know that I ended up getting the bagel, at a discount, with a free cold brew coffee.

But this is not a post about how I got free stuff. It’s a post about something much more meaningful.

The Power To Change Someone’s Day

Interactions have the power to change our entire day. Sometimes people will seemingly do everything in their power to ruin your day. Sometimes, someone will walk into your day with a smile and a playful energy that reminds you that life comes in waves of good and bad.

During my bagel bonanza, I came to find out that the manager who gave me the insider discount and the free coffee, had recently dealt with some profoundly rude customers. She’d been treated with condescension and entitlement. It’s an awful thing to have someone treat you as “less than.”

A few too many people had tried her patience and pushed her to the limit. I think we can all empathize with that experience.

She and I had talked for a bit and it was clear that after the recent nonsense she’d dealt with, she was genuinely appreciative of someone who came in smiling and kind. We had a fun banter and connected over life in the service industry. She laughed, I laughed, and we both went about our day, hopefully both in a good mood.

I’m not saying that my bagel store interaction changed this person’s life. All I’m saying is that the way we show up has the power to impact people in more substantial ways than we typically think about.

A Brightly Lit Workspace

And so, I wonder if we think enough about how we have been showing up at work.

Are we too caught up in the job? Are we collapsing each day into everyday?

Stated differently, how often do we look at the day ahead and think about it as a unique opportunity rather than another entry in the same story? Specifically, do we bring a light into the office, or are we wading around in the same gray, lifeless soup that characterizes the mood in too many places of business?

Are we too caught up in the task list, the office politics, the interpersonal drama to take some ownership over turning it around with just a little more kindness, and a commitment to smile and connect with someone in a joyful way?

Work doesn’t have to only be a place for burnout and commiseration. It, like all places where people gather, is an opportunity to connect and make each other feel safe, appreciated, and hopeful.

Critical Analysis and Joy

However, having conscious awareness of the world around us and our places of business need not be in conflict with our capacity to bring more joy into the world.

‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’ – Martin Luther King, Jr.

There’s most certainly a time to be angry, there’s definitely a lot of fighting left for all of us to do. But there are spaces in between, and I think we should use it to flash a smile and try to bring some more light into someone else’s day.

The ripple effects are worth it.

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