It had been a bad afternoon. I’d had some bad news at work, I was feeling tired, and things just felt… bad.
As I sat on the train travelling back to London, I thought about my work problems and I felt sad. I felt I’d failed and made wrong decisions. I could feel the wallowing coming on strong; the nausea had kicked in a while back.
Now to put this into perspective (which I was struggling to do at the time) I was without doubt slightly catastrophising the situation (which I do all too often). Nobody was ill, nobody was dying, but for lots of reasons it felt like the end of the world.
And then I heard her. From the back of the train carriage, a joyous, lilting young voice emanated, cracking jokes with all my fellow passengers. Laughing, sharing stories and just being, well, happy.
Her name was Sophie and it was her job to travel through the train, selling drinks and snacks. As she approached my seat I couldn’t wait to meet this joyous voice… and unsurprisingly, she looked just like her personality. Beautifully happy and glowing and gorgeous.
‘What can I get you?’ Sophie asked. And then proceeded to rattle off the numerous options with such great enthusiasm, as if she’d never done this before (she’d already repeated them at least 8 times in the last few minutes).
‘You’re happy,’ my colleague Ruth and I commented. ‘Always,’ she said. ‘What’s not to be happy about? I love my job. I get treated really well here.’ I imagined that whatever life threw at Sophie, she’d somehow always find the positive.
Sophie, Ruth and I had a little chat. We laughed, we giggled, and as she left I felt my mood lighten. Sophie had shifted my perspective, changed my day… and a lot more.
Only days before, I’d been listening to Oprah Winfrey who’d been talking about legacy. She said she used to think her legacy was the school she opened in Africa. But then her friend, Maya Angelou, had suggested otherwise. Maya had talked about our legacy being the things we do every day: the smiles we share, the way we speak with people, the kindnesses (and otherwise). These small things are our legacy, these are the lives we lived, the choices we made. And the ripple effect outwards from this is immeasurable.
So cheering me up is part of Sophie’s legacy. And Ruth’s as well, who I have to say was just the right colleague to be with me as I received the news. She is another glass half full, kind and positive person. As I returned home after the long day’s trip, I called my mum, climbed into the bath, lit candles and played my happy songs. The world seemed a better place again.
So why share this? Well, a few years ago this would not have been the pattern. The nausea would have continued, the catastrophising would have got worse, and there would have been no light at the end of the tunnel. But now, I have my toolkit that works for me. Speak with people who care and are positive and kind, choose them wisely. Do something that makes you happy. And be very grateful when a “Sophie” comes your way when needed.
What legacy will you choose? Today and every day?