I finally received the long awaited copy of Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson from Amazon this morning. It was Fredrickson’s research that made me realize the importance of positive emotions to well-being.
I used to be someone who experienced predominantly negative and neutral emotions. I strove to be neutral, the ideal state. I have since become a total convert to positivity as a way to flourish.
As I read Fredrickson’s book, I couldn’t help recalling a wonderful episode from my mini-vacation two weeks ago on a private rain forest island in Malaysia.
I find restaurants a great place to practice positivity, and very often, receive great service in return. Positive customer behavior begets positive service.
Here’s what I do in restaurants:
- Flash a big smile to the waiter/waitress
- Establish eye contact
- Call the waiter/waitress by name
- Express my appreciation for their service
- Show my interest in him/her
On the first morning at breakfast, my partner and I were lucky to get a table in the garden, surrounded by lush tropical plants and a wandering peacock! I noticed a waiter, Jonathan, who stood out from the rest of the staff because of his Duchenne smile.
Engaging him in conversation, I learned a bit about his story. Jonathan, a Nepali, came to work in Malaysia 4 years ago. Because of this conversation, we established a connection as individuals beyond the buyer/seller relationship. My partner and I had a great morning enjoying our leisurely breakfast, looked after by Jonathan.
On the second morning, we had the same table and Jonathan again looked after us. I brought my own mango (a big juicy Indian mango) with me that morning. Jonathan came over and offered to have the kitchen prepared it for us. It was so kind of him to do this. I made a mental note to write to the hotel general manager about such an outstanding service.
On the third and our final morning there, Jonathan surprised us by serving us a plate of mango on the house! It was a special treat as mango was not on the menu. He also packed us some snacks for our ferry trip home!
The smile, the attention, the acknowledgment, the appreciation, the interest from our side brought out the best in Jonathan, who in turns gave us the best gift – a peak-end (the high point and a great ending) experience of our vacation.
Fredrickson, B. (2009). < Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3 to 1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life. New York: Crown.
Kahneman, D. (1999). Objective Happiness. In E. Kahneman, E. Diener and N. Schwartz (eds) (1999). Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology (pp.3-25). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Other image courtesy of Yee-Ming Tan