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Keep Smiling
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The department I work for is moving. It is “just” a move from one building to a different one six miles away. I say “just” because six years ago they moved the department from California to Texas. This time around six hundred people are playing musical chairs.

It is like musical chairs because when the music stops playing some fifty people will not have chairs—or desks or jobs. As you can imagine, people are stressed, especially the people planning the move. I know. It is my job to plan the move for my department—120 people. I have been in a lot of meetings over the last few weeks with many highly stressed people.

I am stressed, too. The rest of the move planning team does realize that. I go into every meeting with a big smile that stays on my face, and lots of jokes to defuse the tension. Some of the jokes are corny—but they work. The meetings are getting a lot friendlier, and more is getting done. Even the head of facilities—whose temper is legendary—has been more cheerful recently.

Two of the facilities people—the folks in charge of the buildings, with the responsibility for seeing the move run smoothly—thanked me for my attitude after one meeting, when we were working out seating arrangements. I joked with one of them saying, “Face it. There is no situation, however bad, that cannot be made worse by people acting cranky and crabby.”

Greshem's Law

She laughed—because it is true. People go into stressful situations in a bad mood, then behave in a cranky manner, and everyone just gets crabbier and crankier. A form of Gresham’s Law starts working—only for manners instead of money. Instead of bad money driving out good money, bad manners drive out good manners.

I am not naturally optimistic. I know my toast will land butter-side down when I drop it. I take comfort in the knowledge that a pessimist is never disappointed and sometimes pleasantly surprised.

I put my pessimism aside when I have to, though. In stressful situations showing good humor and cheerfulness is an application of the Golden Rule. I do not need more stress and negativity when I am stressed—no one else needs it either. So I put on my game face, and smile, and joke.

It can be hard. Sometimes my molars are grinding behind the grin. I keep it up because everyone else needs it.

It has worked so far. C.S. Lewis once observed that once one thing starts going right, all of a sudden everything starts going right. Things are coming together better than anyone expected. We have three more months to go before the move is finished. I can grump after that.

“A cheerful look brings joy to the heart” (Proverbs 15:30).

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 By Mark N. Lardas. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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