Anyone can smile when things are perfect, the key is to smile as a work in progress

Last night I had a long conversation with my girlfriend after work.  It had been a pretty disappointing shift to wrap up a pretty disappointing double to finish off a pretty disappointing weekend.  I had a call party not show up.  A 17 top I was supposed to split became a 6 top.  The 6 top that I was supposed to get to make up for it, showed up a half hour late after I had already been cut.  A table called my service “spectacular” to my manager and told him I was the best server they had ever had.  They left me 12%.  A phone call I was anxiously expecting never came.  At the end of the conversation, I told her that I was going to write for a while before we had lunch today.  She left me with one piece of advice, “write something optimistic.”

I think she might be right.  It has taken me a couple of cups of coffee to agree with her, but she has a point.  We cannot control the things happening around us, but we can control how we interpret them.  We cannot prevent negative things from occurring, but we can choose not to dwell on them.  There are reasons for optimism on the worst days, if you look hard enough for them.  My best friend is fond of phrasing it this way:

‘I ain’t often right
but I’ve never been wrong
It seldom turns out the way
it does in the song
Once in a while
you get shown the light
in the strangest of places
if you look at it right”

-Robert Hunter

Whatever happened to you today, there is something out there worth smiling about.  You have to find it for yourself.  I don’t know you personally, so I can’t tell you what it is.  If you are a server, I can tell you that there are a few reasons to be optimistic.  One of these might be worth focusing on until you can find your own reason to smile.

Every day the restaurant industry is growing.  The worst is behind us.  People are eating out more and spending more when they do.

Every day more people are becoming aware of the difficulties faced by servers.  People are learning about the importance of their tip and the proper amount to leave. 

Every day your resume looks better to your next employer.  Employers love stable employees.  The longer you stick around, the more impressive you become by demonstrating your stability.

Every day you become a better server.  You encounter more experiences and become better at handling them the next time they occur.

Every day you put more money in your pocket than you would if you were unemployed.

Every day you have the chance to move closer to your long term goals.  If you didn’t today, you can tomorrow.

Every day you have the opportunity to make an impact on someone else’s day.  That cranky guest might not have had one other person smile at them all day.  They might not thank you, but you can sleep better knowing that you might have helped turn their day around.

Every day you move closer to the next great event in your life.

Every day you have the chance to do something nice for those you care about.  If you didn’t today, you can start planning for tomorrow.

I can’t tell you what to plan for tomorrow.  You know far better than I what you can do to turn things around.  I do know that when you focus on the negatives, the good things in your life don’t seem quite as good.  When you focus on the good things, the negatives don’t seem quite as bad.  All you can control is what you focus on.  The key to being optimistic is to focus on the good things.  For that it means enjoying my day off.  This weekend is over.  I can’t change any of it, but this week is already starting to look far better.

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