Today, I want to get back to basics and write about something I’d put in the category of ‘Life 101.’
On a yacht I used to work on, my chief stewardess made a huge deal about the importance of smiling and making it look like you wanted to be there. At work. At 4am. Serving drunk people drinks.
“Smile!” She’d say.
I’ve made it quite known that working on that boat was challenging, but I at the time, I made it my mission to smile until my cheeks hurt, then push through that pain barrier.
I got into the habit of doing it, and it became second nature to me that as soon as I was on duty and working, a smile would come across my face.
And an interesting thing happened, I started feeling like smiling.
My smile was no longer fake.
God, I was enjoying myself. I was genuinely smiling.
Now, I wasn’t loving the drunken mess or the cleaning up of pubic hair in the shower, but the owner of the boat could come round the corner at any given moment, so I was constantly on smile duty. And then slowly, the drunken mess became amusing and the pubic hair became funny – (not sure what else to do about other people’s pubic hair, it’s just gotta be funny.)
The more I made a conscious effort to smile, the more I felt like smiling.
Hell, even the owner who was quite the cranky pants, started smiling at me when I’d come to give him a coffee.
My smiling had such an impact on him, that I even made him laugh at one point – and that was when I was trying to open a bottle of red wine in front of him and almost cracked the cork.
Let me tell you something, when you work on a super yacht, you are giving 6 star service on a bad day. Seven star on a good one.
You need to know how to open a bottle of wine.
Alas, I got nervous that he was watching me, and I messed up.
But how I handled it made all the difference. I literally stopped, looked him in the eye – and smiled.
He then too, smiled back and broke out into a laugh.
Then he took the wine bottle from me, and showed me how to open it.
Now, in that moment, I had 2 choices;
1) To run away and possibly jump off the boat
2) To just smile, and let the embarrassment roll over me and off me.
I chose the second option, and as a result, I feel like we bonded over it. It was now our joke, because I royally messed up and I chose to smile about it.
When we smile, people around us might make an assumption that we’re happy, but what we do that’s bigger than that is communicate that they’re welcome in our presence; that we’re happy to see them.
In turn, that creates another smile; on their face.
It’s like a pay it forward kind of thing, if you feel shitty and you express it, you are probably then going to poo poo on someone else’s day by looking sour.
If you choose to smile, regardless of the traffic jam you’ve just survived, the line at the grocery store you just endured or the pubic hair you just picked up that wasn’t yours; it brings light to your own situation and also to those you come into contact with.
I can’t tell you how genuinely happy I felt in a job I didn’t like, while I was in my ‘smile’ mindset.
It was actually amusing at what a difference it made. It’s the nicest feeling in the world, knowing you are making someone else’s day brighter by looking at them in the eye and giving them love through a facial expression.
Even though this dude who owned the boat was a multi-millionaire, we were on the same page for a little while, in the moments we were smiling with each other, because a smile holds no discrimination between social classes.
Feeling good is infectious and it’s something we all have within us to give freely to our fellow man.
You can’t always chose your circumstances, the people you’re surrounded by or how life ‘happens’ to you, but you are absolutely in charge of your inner condition.
I choose my inner condition to be serene, regardless of my outer world, because I choose to make my day brighter – and I also choose to shine light on those around me.
Because they’re important, and I want them to know they’re noticed and I’m happy to see them.
Choose joy, choose positive, choose to smile.