Maura Sweeney found smiles where she didn’t expect them. Then she found herself smiling in return. Read more from Maura on her blog.
“Smile and the world will smile with you.” ~ Unknown
Want a sure fire way to brighten your day? Consider a smile!
A few weeks ago, my husband and I enjoyed a relaxing Caribbean cruise filled with service-minded staff. But it wasn’t until we disembarked that I truly experienced the power of a smile! As a proponent of living happy from the inside out, I considered this experience one worth sharing.
It was an early Saturday morning when we stepped off our ship. As some of the first to disembark, we joined a small group of passengers in the Miami Cruise Terminal to await the arrival of our luggage. While many passengers remained groggy and not yet awake, my happiness radar unexpectedly engaged.
Dozens of workers caught my attention as they filed into the cavernous building, ready to start their day. The atmosphere began to turn pleasantly and progressively electric.
Burly guys slapped one another on the shoulder while exchanging familiar, funny remarks. Smiling women awaited welcome hugs from fellow workers, some jesting that they hadn’t yet received a hug or a kiss. Despite the industrial work environment, the climate conveyed a sense of friends and family happily gathered for a reunion.
The bantering continued as employees readied themselves for what would become a massively busy work day. All were in motion but recognized and acknowledged everyone within their wake with a happy remark and a ready smile.
Initially, I considered these pleasant faces and genial interactions a corporate anomaly. Yet wherever I gazed, it was the same. Regardless of uniform or rank, smiling employees greeted passengers – and each other – with a pleasing confidence, welcome and warmth. The effect was both tangible and powerful.
These people weren’t just happy to be around each other. They were happy to be at work.
“Do you credit this positive work atmosphere to your senior management?” I asked a few porters. They smiled at each other, evidently happy to hear that someone noticed.
“No one tells us to smile. We’re just happy to be here,” offered one of the men. Then he suggested, as if pleased to share the glory, “Can we introduce you to our manager so you can tell him, too?”
Within moments, I was introduced to the supervisor who soon introduced me to his manager, a jovial and outgoing woman. Each employee seemed to carry his or her own joy, a happiness that spread as each one extended it to others.
Here are a few things I’d learned about the power of a smile at the Miami Cruise Terminal that day.
Smiles don’t need to start at the top.
There was no corporate directive to be happy at work. Employees brought their own happiness with them and, as they shared it with each other, they created a happy and joyful atmosphere starting in the trenches.
Smiles make heavy work lighter.
Saturdays are long and stressful days at the Miami Cruise Terminal. Workers convey thousands of passengers, suitcases and supplies on and off several ships — all within the confines of highly compressed time frames and deadlines. The uplifting nature of a smile helps employees carry out the high levels of strength, coordination and cooperation required to successfully execute these herculean tasks.
Smiles fill our cup.
One worker offered me a secret to the joyous atmosphere I’d been observing. “Each day, I come to work with just a little in my cup. I share the little joy I have and, by the end of the day, my cup is completely full. There’s a lot of us here who work the same way. We leave feeling better than when we came in.”
A smile is a powerful key to living happy from the inside out. The next time you’re feeling weak or heavy-laden, remember to ask yourself: What’s in my cup?
May you discover your own smile, then multiply it by sharing it with the world!