This I Believe

Eric - Valley Village, California
Entered on January 31, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
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Prior to working for a television network, I had been a freelance advertising writer for seven years. Self-employment has its own stresses, but generally speaking, interpersonal relations is not usually one of them, since you spend most of the day at home in your underwear and your primary contact with others comes through the telephone, which you can ignore if you want to take a nap.

Working in an office, I discovered, requires me to be nice. All the time. Which is almost as easy as balancing a spinning plate on the end of my nose while my hair is on fire.

The stresses of the workday, problems at home, etc., often conspire to put people in bad moods that they then want to take out on those around them – particularly subordinates, since they have little say in the matter and are therefore the most rewarding targets.

The challenge: how to be an Inner Beauty Queen when ugliness reigns around you?

On occasion, while shlepping down the mile-long hallways of the building I work in, co-workers have said to me, “Why do you smile so much?” “Aren’t you ever in a bad mood?” Whenever I pass one particular woman, she yells out, “It’s Positive Energy Man!”

This, I assure you, is often balanced out by days where I’d just as soon go postal on these same co-workers. But I realized early on in my employment here that my real job is not creating promos for television series; it’s about spreading a little cheer.

The spiritual speaker Marianne Williamson once said, “Every place is a church.” Which means that no matter where you are, you have the opportunity to be nice. Okay, the endless freakin’ challenge to be nice. And I don’t mean that fake kind of niceness that has us smiling sweetly at someone while plotting their death by some heinous yet highly creative torture. I mean as much genuine kindness and respect as you can muster given that the person in question may be a full-on cretin.

The benefit in this kind of behavior is the old axion, “You reap what you sow.” Kindness begets kindness. Doing something kind – even the smallest effort, like smiling at someone in passing – can result in their reflecting some kindness back to you. Or in their reflecting it on to someone else. Okay, that’s not nearly as much fun since we’re usually not there to see it, but hey, it should turn out to be a pretty festive moment if we have to revisit it at Heaven’s cineplex.

When I smile at others and they smile back, it feels good. It makes me feel liked. And more importantly, it makes me feel as if I’m doing something constructive with my life. It’s a constant, sometimes Sissyphustic challenge to stay positive, but my goal is to become the reigning Inner Beauty Queen of this company. I’ll pass on the sash and tiara, but hey, I’ll take the world peace.