How to Rock Your Day: 3 Reasons Why Your Attitude Matters

At a local lunch place in my town, there’s this bus boy.  His job?  To clean tables after customers leave, making the table ready for the next customer.

But each time I’m there, I watch with fascination the effect he has on others as he takes bussing tables to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL.  This restaurant is the kind where you tell them your name, they announce it when your order’s ready and you pick it up at the counter. You take your cup to the drink station and get your drink, napkins, straws, etc.  It’s a self-serve kind of place.

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But if The Busboy is on duty, that’s not what happens.

Instead, he greets you with a dazzling smile, remembers your name from last time and declares, “Have a seat!  I’ll bring your lunch out!”  Quickly, cheerfully and with a bit of flair, he brings lunch to the table.  “Here ya go, Mrs. Connie.  You got enough to drink?  Need some salt or pepper? Alright, you ladies enjoy.” The other customers’ faces light up as he does the same for them.

You would think he was the owner and master chef of an expensive 5 star restaurant!  But wait.  He’s just the busboy.

Just the busboy?  More like a shining ambassador for his place of employment.

Every time I see him, I’m reminded:

It’s not just about WHAT you do, it’s about HOW you do it.

Here are 3 reasons why your attitude matters.

  1.  Your attitude is contagious.  The energy you bring to your meeting, your classroom or home spreads to others and they are affected by it.  I’m told we have “mirror neurons” in our brains that make our emotions catchable.  So take responsibility for the energy and mood you’re spreading to others.
  2. This moment makes your future moments. How you do what you do impacts how people respond to you and very often, the results you get.  I give The Busboy a better tip than many other servers and I suspect other customers do, too.  Decide that you will WOW other people with your genuine caring and attention to detail, and watch to see whether you get a different response than usual.
  3. You can make a difference in this world no matter what you do for a living. Busboys are not known for making millions.  Working in the service industry (I’ve been there) can be frustrating.  Customers are in a hurry, in a bad mood, don’t expect to see you again, etc.  It can be tempting to tell yourself, “If I had a really important job, my attitude would be better.” But whatever your job is, don’t miss this truth: YOU IMPACT OTHERS.  Yes, YOU! Start infusing everything you do with love and enthusiasm, realizing that you can impact others for good, no matter what you do for a living.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently put it:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (credit: biography.com)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (credit: biography.com)

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music…Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry.  Sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: “Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”

You can hear that speech here.

Think with me here.  What’s an example of HOW someone did something that wowed you?

And what area might shift in your life if you focused on HOW you do something?

Leave a comment because I’d really love to know.  And if you have a friend or co-worker who’s caught in a negative loop and could use a little encouragement, share this with them.

Remember, It’s not just about WHAT you do.  It’s about HOW you do it!

Thanks for reading!

How to Leverage Life’s “Uh Oh”s for Greater Happiness (4 Strategies from My New Brother!)

As a kid, didn’t you LOVE surprises? Like when your parents surprised you with your first bike!

Later, as an adult, maybe the dishwasher broke.  And flooded the kitchen.  Surprise.

Some surprises are great!  Some not so great.  Many of you may know the very unexpected news I received a few months ago.  It came by way of a phone call.  But my surprise was good–incredibly good.  Let me tell you about it.

My side of the story begins while perusing Facebook one evening. I watched a video of my cousin Bruce from Texas singing and playing the guitar beautifully.  Since I’m a musician myself, I was intrigued.  I didn’t know this cousin at all and I certainly didn’t know he was a musician.  I sent him a private message.  “Bruce! This is your cousin, Connie!  Wow! Loved your singing.  I wish we lived closer and could make music together sometime.”

Instantly, a reply:  “Are you going to the family reunion in April?”

“Yes!”

“Maybe we could do something together then.”

Wow.  How fun would that be?

We messaged back and forth for a week or so, discussing songs, key signatures and ranges.  “May I call you in the morning?” he asked.   “Sure!”, I responded, thinking we’d nail down a song and key signature. Bruce added, “And I’d like to tell you a story about our family.”

“Great! I love family stories!”  Little did I know how Bruce’s story would change my life.

The next morning, Bruce shared with me that on his 50th birthday, his mother (my Great Aunt Nita), revealed to him that many years ago, while she and Bruce’s dad were separated, there was a relationship with her nephew by marriage, Bill.  (OK, folks, Bill is my dad.)

Bruce shared that his mom told him that the result was….well, Bruce. Mind you, now, this is long before my mom and dad ever knew each other.

There.  That cleans it up a little.  Right?

Surprise!  I have another brother!  Well, after we talked some more, Bruce and I decided it might be best for me to tell my brother, Mark.  When I asked Mark how he felt, he said, “Strangely happy”.   “Me, too”, I said.  “Why are you strangely happy?”  “Well, I always wanted a big brother!”

“Wait. Are you saying my piano recitals weren’t enough for you?”

Anyway.

My new brother, Bruce, has taught me a thing or two about how to handle surprises.   So what do you do when life hands you an “Uh oh”?  Something totally unexpected?  Four suggestions:

1. Keep it simple and find the good.  When my new brother of five minutes asked how I felt, I asked, “Bruce, how do you feel?”  His response? “I’m thrilled. My daddy David raised and loved me as his own.  In addition, I always looked up to Bill.  I have 2 wonderful siblings.  And I am hopeful about the possibility of getting to know you and Mark.  I don’t understand why this happened, and I’m not saying it was right, but as a result, I’m here…and I am the person I am because of it.  I’m grateful for life.” Bruce set the tone for Mark and me by this wonderful perspective.  He could’ve said it had ruined his life, that his life was a lie, that the circumstances of his birth were less than honorable.  But he just doesn’t get involved in too much navel gazing.  He seems to understand this great truth:  Some things are beyond our understanding.  As the Bible puts it: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us…” (Deuteronomy 29:29).  It seems the happiest people are those who know the difference between what God chooses and doesn’t choose to show us.  Knowing the difference and resting in it can bring such peace.   We must be willing to live with mystery.

2.  Refuse the regrets.  The “If Onlys’ are always waiting in the wings for us.  Maybe they call to Bruce, too, but he just doesn’t answer the door.  He refuses to be a prisoner of past experiences.  How about you?  Here’s what I mean:  “Boy, those were the good old days.   If only this or that hadn’t happened.”  Are you missing out on what God has for you today because you’re consumed with yesterday?  Instead of looking back and wishing something had gone differently or regretting that something is over, don’t miss out on what He is doing right now.

3. Have courage, with discernment.  Bruce could’ve kept the secret to himself.  And he would’ve avoided the risk of rejection, but we all would have missed out on the gift of our new relationship with one another.  Yet he wasn’t impulsive in sharing his news.  He considered it for many years, weighing the possible consequences.  When the time felt right, he made it clear he didn’t want to intrude on Mark’s and my life, but thought we deserved to know.  I marvel at the courage it must have taken to make that phone call, and I’m so glad he did.

4. Be flexible. My mother and Bruce’s siblings have shown great flexibility and generosity in sharing us. Bruce’s long time siblings have been gracious to us, sharing Bruce and inviting us to be part of their family.  And my mother has opened her heart to Bruce, giving Mark and me freedom to do the same.   They’ve all been great examples of generosity and flexibility.

May I ask what “uh oh” you might be facing in your life?  Maybe your cousin isn’t your brother, but perhaps you’ve received a less than good report from the doctor.  A husband who said he’d be there forever is now gone.  A job loss.  I don’t know exactly what you may be facing, but do know this: unexpected moments like these are inevitable, but are often the gateway to equally unexpected blessings.  The difference is how we deal with it and the perspective we choose to have.  For me, I’ve gained a precious brother and my life has been immeasurably enriched.

Last year, my Christmas CD was delayed due to a copyright issue.  But because of that delay, it turned out that Bruce was able to sing with me on my CD.  A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of telling our story at my CD Release!  (On the left is my new brother, Bruce and on the right is my long time brother, Mark.)

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Then we sang “Amazing Grace, My Chains are Gone” together.

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I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place.

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This holiday season, there may be an “uh-oh” waiting for you.  Remember, unexpected moments are inevitable, but are often the gateway to equally unexpected blessings. My brothers and I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of gratitude for life’s unexpected blessings!

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And by the way, my new Christmas CD, “Simply Christmas”, is sure to get you in the holiday spirit!  Available on conniecarey.com/shop and coming on iTunes this week!

 

 

 

How Changing Your Words Changes Your Attitude

Is this how you start your day?

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I’m not throwing any stones here.  Believe me, I’ve done it, too.

But it’s interesting how changing one simple phrase in your vocabulary can change your whole mindset from “Rise & Whine” to “Rise & Shine”.

Recently, I responded to an invitation to lunch with these words: “I can’t go that day.  I have to speak.”  For some reason, I heard my words with a different perspective. Wait a minute.  I have to speak?  I love the fact that I can use my life experiences to make a difference in peoples’ lives.  And I can’t believe people pay me to do what I feel called to do and what I enjoy doing.  What I do is a privilege.  And then it hit me.

I don’t have to speak.  I get to speak.

One phrase invokes a feeling of duty, whereas the other breeds gratitude.

I began to ask myself in what other areas I might need to recognize my overlooked privileges.

I don’t have to work out.  I am blessed with 2 arms, 2 legs and a healthy body that can move and I want to keep it that way.  I get to work out.

I don’t have to go to church. I am fortunate to live in a country where it’s not against the law to worship God.  I get to go to church.

I don’t have to check on my friend who’s under the weather.  I’m grateful to have friends who’ve seen me through good times and bad.  I get to check on her.

I don’t have to get a flu shot.  My country provides safe, sterile, convenient, affordable vaccines at my choice of several local drugstores.  For a little perspective, I was in Africa a few years ago to help with a medical team.

This picture doesn’t do justice to the hundreds and hundreds who stood in line all day to see a doctor.  I get to get a flu shot.

I don’t have to go to the grocery store.  (OK, this one is a work in progress, cause I DESPISE going to the grocery store!)  I’m fortunate to have money to pay for groceries.  I’m fortunate to live in a country where virtually anything I want or need, from organic fruits and vegetables, bison, crab legs, free range chicken to umpteen different flavors of coffee, from all over the world, is just 5 minutes away.  I get to go to the grocery store.

Shifting our focus from “I have to” to “I get to” can be a game changer in the way you experience your day.

In what areas could you change your words, creating more purpose and joy in your day? Try it and see if your “Rise & Whine” doesn’t become “Rise & Shine”!

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Blending music, humor and inspiration, best-selling author Connie Carey helps audiences view their challenges from a renewed perspective…all while enjoying a good belly laugh! Learn more about her book, “Falling UP”. For booking info, call 478.250.1177.

My Four Most Popular Posts from 2014

I thought I might share with you my four most popular posts from 2014 based on number of views, likes, shares and comments.   I’m humbled that anyone besides my mom would read my blog! (And even more humbled that my post on Robin Williams, My Dad and the Voice of Truth was viewed over 5,000 times in 24 hours).

Think of these posts as an old fashioned covered dish dinner on the grounds!  Some dishes (posts) are light and sweet like that orange whipped cream stuff my Aunt Wee used to make.  Others are meaty (and maybe even a little hard to chew) like a good old hunk of roast beef.   But they all are intended to encourage you and perhaps inspire you to consider everyday life from a renewed perspective.  Thank you for reading my blog…may you find a little cheer in these Life Lessons & Laughter!

Robin Williams, My Dad and the Voice of Truth

robin-williams-jpgFrom his Mork and Mindy days to Good Morning Vietnam to Mrs. Doubtfire and beyond, Robin Williams literally oozed humor and was a master of all things funny.

But addiction and depression are no laughing matter.

When I consider my father’s battle with the same, and then suicide, I think of this:… Continue reading

What I Caught From the Parking Garage Lady

The Parking Garage Lady was contagious yesterday.  And I caught it.  Let me explain.

Typical scenario: you go through the toll booth or exit the parking garage.  You hand him the ticket. He stamps it.

“Four dollars.”

You hand him a five.

He slaps a one into your hand and pushes the button. Gate lifts. You’re gone. End of story.

But that’s not what happened to me yesterday morning.

With our window rolled down, ready to get our ticket, my husband and I heard her before we got to her cheery, joy-dispensing booth. “You have a wonderful Thursday!” she said to the person in the car ahead of us.

“How are y’all this morning?”, she asked…as if she really wanted to know.  Still a little sleepy and nursing my coffee,  I leaned to the left from the passenger seat.  I wanted to see this happy lady.  With a warm smile she commented, “Nippy this morning! But I bet it’ll warm up by noon time! Isn’t this a gorgeous time of year?”

“Uh, yeah!” was our brilliant response.

We parked and made our way to the building. As we walked past her booth, our eyes met. She smiled and waved.  Maybe it was just the coffee kicking in, but I felt a bit more bounce in my step.  I smiled and waved back.

IMG_0163Entering the building, I pondered that this woman has transformed a job some might call mundane into a personal  mission to brighten the day of each person who crosses her path.  She may look like an ordinary parking garage lady, but don’t be fooled by her disguise.  She’s actually a superhero, nixing negativity with each parking ticket she stamps!

Not only did she brighten my day and everyone else fortunate enough to park in the Washington St. Garage, but she also made it contagious.

John had business in the courthouse.  A security guard instructed us to place jackets, purse, etc. on the conveyor belt.  I waited for the go ahead to pass through the detector.  Person after person walked through without a word or glance to the guard.  Infected by my happy parking garage lady, I ventured a word of encouragement.  “Thanks for keeping us safe.”  The guard was caught off-guard.  “Thank you, Ma’am.” He smiled and actually stood slightly taller.

As I stepped onto the elevator, a woman stared straight ahead, expressionless.  As we ascended, I broke the silence. “I love your boots.”  Her face came to life.  “I got ’em on sale!”  “Well then all the better!” I replied. We laughed.

The doors opened.  “Have a great day!” she called after me.

Yes, I know. These conversations aren’t world-changers. But they are short, painless affirmations of the people we bump into all day long. What if we “infect” the people we encounter and they in turn, “infect” the people they encounter?

As you go through your ordinary day today, whether at home or work, remember your extraordinary opportunity to infuse a little joy into someone’s life.  Who knows what kind of happy epidemic you and I can start?