Several years ago I worked as a cashier at a small-town grocery store. One day at work tiredness hit me. I couldn’t do anything about it; I had just started my shift; it would be hours before I could go home. Anxiety tagged along with the tiredness. Customers expected to see perky-looking cashiers, and I felt anything but perky. I knew that was reflected on my face. If a customer noticed that and said something to the manager, I would be disciplined, and I didn’t want that. So on top of being tired, I was also anxious. That was certainly not a good combination at work. What could I do?
After awhile a customer came up to the register. As I began ringing her purchases up, I recalled seeing an item in the paper. She had won an important award from the county. I congratulated her on winning the award. Her face lit up in a bright smile, and she thanked me. The conversation didn’t last long, and she walked out the door. But as she left, I realized my tiredness and anxiety had vanished. I made it through my shift with renewed energy and enthusiasm, and practically skipped out the door at the end of my shift.
Ever since, I’ve reflected on the idea that in making someone else feel better, I receive a benefit too.