This morning I stopped by my local coffee shop and was greeted warmly by each of the baristas.

I’m a regular there, and so we know each other by name.

I’m an early riser and spend the first hour of my day writing at the coffee shop.

This morning as Aaron took my order, he asked me how my day was going.

I replied that my day was starting.  Somedays my days start out wonderful and somedays they start.  I guess the good thing to remember is that each day starts.

The back story behind my response was I awoke this morning around 2:30 and couldn’t seem to get back to sleep.

My mind was racing a bit, so I had challenges calming my mind and relaxing.

One of the challenges I’ve faced in the past when I wake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep is worrying about how the lack of sleep will affect me when it’s time to go to work.

Worry builds upon worry, and it tends to go in a downward spiral.

I finally accepted that I was going through an anxious stage and decided to own the anxiety and ride the way until the anxiety subsided.

I did get a bit more rest this morning.

However, it wasn’t a great night’s sleep.

About eight weeks ago, I changed up my morning routine to take my laptop to the coffee shop.

Prior to that morning routine change, I was doing my writing in the office.

In early October, I realized that I was dealing with some challenges.

Most of my day, I’m in my work office behind a computer diligently working away.

While I enjoy my work, lately, I’ve found that it has been a bit isolating as I’m the only person in my office.

I recognized that being isolated most of the day wasn’t contributing to my happiness.

In order to combat the isolation, I decided to change my environment and get around some more people.

It’s been surprising to me how that small shift had increased my happiness.

Something as simple as saying hello to a friendly person on a daily basis has been brightening my day for the last eight weeks.

Starting my day off with the greetings of friendly people has a ripple effect on the rest of my day.

A few months ago, I found myself ruminating about something that was bothering me.

I headed off to the store and recognized something about myself as I walked past a mirror.

I realized that I have a resting jerk face.

You know that kind of face that looks angry and unwelcoming.

As I thought about my resting jerk face, I decided to make a simple change in the way I did my shopping.

I decided that every time I entered a store, I would consciously put a smile on my face.

I wanted to erase the resting jerk face.

In my efforts to vanquish my resting jerk face, my mission became to brighten the store employees’ day when I went shopping.

Additionally, I decided I would take the time to interact with any of the store employees.

If they were wearing a name tag, I would greet them by their name and spark up a conversation.

I remembered Dale Carnegie saying, “It’s a proven fact that it’s the sweetest sound to a person’s ear is the sound of their own name.”

I’ve worked in retail before, and most people are so hurried that they just are in and out of the store as quickly as possible.

Other times, a customer is upset and begins a berating barrage of words towards one of the store employees.

It really is quite confounding how rude some people can be at times.

There have been times when I was that rude, inconsiderate customer.

I determined that I wanted to be the customer that made the store employee smile.

At some point later in the day, maybe my interaction would help buoy the store employee up when they ran into someone who was upset.

I have been surprised by the benefit my acts to be friendly to store employees have been to me.

I end feeling a lot better by being friendly to that store employee.

It brightens my day to spread a smile and an interest in the other people I interact with.

Earlier this year, my family and I drove for a weekend vacation out of town.

It had been a long day, and everyone was hungry.

We stopped at a local Barbeque restaurant to fill our bellies.

My oldest daughter Norah was tired and hungry.

As I looked at her, I saw a mirror of myself.  She had a resting jerk face.

I took her aside and started a conversation with her.

I explained that the waitress was here to serve us.

Waitresses are hard workers.

They spend all day on their feet, taking orders, and dealing with lots of hungry customers.

Sometimes they have to deal with people that get upset with them.

I then asked her to change the way she was interacting with the waitress and greet her with a smile.

By doing so, my daughter could end up brightening the waitress’s day.

As I’m writing about this, I realize there is a subtle change that has happened in my interaction with people.

The changes I’ve made to obliterate my resting jerk face have improved how I interact with the other people in my life.

That mission to brighten the days of store employees has bled into all my interactions.

Now, without thinking about it, with each conversation I’m having with everyone, I’m trying to have a genuine human interaction.

In some small way, I’m trying to add a smile to the face of each person I talk to.

Small changes have ripple effects.

As one person brightens my day, I strive to pass that along to others.

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