Thank you. Have a Nice Day!
Are you happy? Apparently, March 20 is International Happiness Day. Were it not for social media, I wonder how many people would know? And social media has made it apparent that we need tips to be happy. You can buy books, take courses or just read the 5 tips to happiness, which sounds more do-able than the 10-step programs… on happiness, that is.
One of the prevailing tips is gratitude. Just say “thank you” as a start. Then the hard part – pausing long enough to actually feel grateful for simple things. I have a student who seems to be an expert at this. He doesn’t really speak English. At the end of every class, he comes up to me, looks me right in the eyes and flashes what can only be adequately described as a movie-star smile and says in perfect English, “Thank you. Have a nice day!”
You can’t miss him in class. Partly because he comes in late to what happens to be a very full room of older adults. He rides the bus so he’s not on his own schedule. And he is polite, in that old-fashioned way. Or maybe the better word is respectful, not wanting to intrude or distract other students. He stands at the door, lanky and awkward, with that beautiful grin. Then he scans the room and nods at a possible spot. He bows to anyone who moves for him, engaging his ever-present thank you’s and spectacular smile.
I didn’t realize he didn’t speak English in the beginning. You never know. He’s new. Maybe he can’t hear. Maybe he’s distracted. Definitely, he’s awkward in his body. Then one day he wanted to talk to me after class. It was then that he said, “no English.” How charming that he learned to say, “Thank you. Have a nice day!” perfectly. Otherwise, he truly didn’t speak English. At all.
So we had a pantomime, hilarious “conversation” about his shoulder, his left shoulder. And somehow we communicated anyway and sorted out how he could move his shoulder differently without pain. A couple of weeks later, as he came into class, he pointed to his shoulder and said, “better.” Grinned. “Thank you!”
I used to see him in various places, walking down major streets or waiting for a bus. Always alone. Always with that smile.
No one really seemed to know him. Yet everyone loved him. I don’t know if he was happy. I just knew he made everyone around him happy. So when he was hit by a car and killed this week, we all were devastated in a surprising way. His gratitude was a ray of happiness for all of us, made all of us smile. Though I didn’t know him at all, I am so grateful for his presence in my life. A reminder to be thankful for the simple things. A reminder to connect and acknowledge each other and our community. A reminder to be happy now.
If you are lucky enough to have someone in your life who makes you smile, let them know. And if you are that person who smiles to the rest of us…
Thank YOU! Have a nice day!
(Repost from 2015)