Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Making for an Extraordinary Day!

My close friend and life / accountability coach (June) and I have started the first of what we expect to be several life experience books. The title for the first has yet to be defined but is focused on identifying the small (and not so small) things that make for an extraordinary day.

Recently I reached out to my extended sphere of influence to ask them five things that would make their day ‘extraordinary’. What an interesting experiment this turned out to be as the answers not only shed an amazing insight from the individuals who responded but the amount of replies neared 80%. Clearly this struck a chord as I’ve not received 80% of anything for so long it’s beyond comprehension.

Before I requested the input, in a stream of consciousness, I wrote out approximately 100 items that I felt would make for an extraordinary day. All were items in my control; giving my kids an extra hug, telling them how much they mean to me, talking to a complete stranger, giving (them) a non solicited compliment, writing a story, getting a facial, sending snail mail to a friend expressing my feelings for them, going to Costco, etc. All was a great exercise and by the way is something I refer to anytime I’m feeling a bit on the dark side of the moon.

Having taken the time to write these self fulfilling prophecies down and give them a sprinkling of meaningful consideration, the next day I set out to see exactly how impactful my thoughts would make for an extraordinary experience. An outing to Costco was eminent as I was need of several household necessities that only Costco has been able to satisfy for the past several years. Off I went. And as I stated on my list, a visit to Costco makes for an extraordinary day. Call me simple (and maybe a bit sick) but I must say, I love the experience as it’s my favorite place on the planet to shop. And I’m not a shopper!

As I was strolling the aisles, I was very cognizant of all the people, sights and sounds around me. More than I can ever recall. I was on the lookout for people to talk to, see new items on the shelf, find something pleasant to observe, say hello, or just give a passerby a warm and hearty smile from a happy and content fellow Costco shopper. I filled my cart with the provisions I sought as well as a few items I absolutely didn’t need (this felt really good and Costco loves these shoppers).

When it came time to check-out, I decided to get into the line that was the longest / people with the most ‘stuff’ in their cart. That way I figured I would prolong the experience of having an extraordinary day. As I approached the counter, I noticed the young woman behind the register wearing matching eye shadow to compliment her pink and white striped blouse. You could tell this was part of her routine and was an obvious aspect in her day in which she took great pride; the pink blending perfectly into the white and vice versa.

I complimented her on her eye shadow and how she was so perfectly color coordinated. This simple gesture absolutely lit her up like a Christmas tree from ear to ear (as well as the lady who was working side by side ‘boxing’ up the goods). The latter stated, ‘She’s always like that; everyday she coordinates. Look @ her shoes!’ They both beamed and the checker told me ‘YOU JUST MADE MY DAY’ and ‘Could I come through her check stand every day and asked if I’d be back tomorrow?’

Imagine that, eye shadow! Is it really that easy to make your day ‘extraordinary’?

Next on my agenda, it was prime time for a facial. Again, for me, one makes for a day extraordinaire. I strutted off to my favorite pedicure spot in my immediate locale and decided I’d give them a shot at a facial. This was a first on that front as the shop is designed primarily for nails (but does advertise the additional spa services).

The shop is worked entirely by women; mostly Philippine & Vietnamese. All in their 20's and early 30's, work 10 - 12 hour days 6 days a week. And I mean WORK. One client after another mostly doing nails and pedicure's. And of course they have to commute an hour or so each way as they cannot afford to live close in.

The girl who gave me my facial didn't know tips from toes let alone a face. She happens to be crippled (my guess polio). She's very sweet, does her utmost best, but as I say, wouldn’t know a professional facial if it reached up and bit her in the ass. Because of her handicap she has to exert more effort than the others as its very hard for her to maneuver between the tables, chairs and the nail carts dragging her non working leg. It’s always nice to see the others pitch in wherever possible to help her in a tight space. This is a subconscious act from all participants with never a spoken word or sign of contempt.

As I laid there uncomfortably having facial massacre, I made the conscientious decision to focus on her doing her level headed best to ensure an enjoyable experience and NOT on her inability to perform the job. She asked several times throughout my comfort zone and what if anything more she might do to make it so. Bless her heart, she wanted so much to make the experience pleasurable.

Had I continued to focus on her ineptitude, I am certain I would resort myself to having a miserable time and left completely irritated and dissatisfied. But shifting my focus to one of 'let it go' and 'let it be what it is' really opened some doors for me. After all, what could I do @ this point? Get up, walk out, yell, criticize her, and refuse to pay? Yes, I could have chosen any of those alternatives. But in my moment of choice, I asked myself, will any of those options make for an extraordinary day? The resounding answer was I highly doubt it. It certainly wouldn't have made hers.

When she finished, she smiled broadly and asked me 3 questions; did I like the foot massage; did I like the warm hand wrap; did I like the way she massaged under my neck? The answer being a resounding 'YES' as I DID like all those aspects of the hour long treatment. After all, who wouldn't? Having a young, warm, friendly Asian woman rubbing your feet, hands and neck with warm oil doesn't get much better does it? She in fact had made my day ‘extraordinary’.

Life is about choices. We either choose to enjoy it or we choose to complain about it. As I say, had I chose the latter, my day would not have been extraordinary. Shifting my internal focus made it so. With the help of those around me, my eyes have been open to living an extraordinary life every day.

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