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Thursday, February 02, 2006

 

PESSIMISTICALLY OPTIMISTIC


Do you know people who always smile at you, who think it’s wonderful to encounter you in the street, to see you, too speak to you, to irk you to death?
Overly friendly people, perhaps simply obnoxious, perhaps fake and totally oblivious to the fact that you’re in a hurry?
Sounds familiar?
I’m aware this sounds strange but I love them.

When studying marketing and management a couple of years ago, we were taught that some shopping centers and exclusive boutiques hire a person, usually male, and put them in front of the entrance for the sole purpose of smiling to the incoming clientele; this to put them in a pleasant mood, which lowers buying resistance.
Apparently research has proven this to be an effective method.

I wasn’t so much taken aback that people, who feel welcome and are smiled at, would be more susceptible to cunning marketing strategies lying all over the place. Rather what amazed me was that with a simple smile, genuine or otherwise, a person’s mood could be significantly influenced for the better.

At weddings they tell the family that everything was wonderful even though the food was cold, late and served in tiny portions (and the music way too loud).
In the store they’ll start chatting with you and anyone else, even if you barely know them.
In a strange shul, they’ll invite you to sit next to them and will want to know everything there is to know about you, from braces to grandchildren.

I wish I were an optimist. I would always believe that everything would be alright, that all people are essentially good, and that there actually is a purpose in living this life.
Unfortunately for me, I can’t. I’m too realistic, too pragmatic if you will, to think like that. I’m too busy contemplating about questions that are better left unasked.
I can’t be an absolute optimist.
And it shows.
I’m usually friendly, greet everyone in the street, socialize occasionally and have guests over.
But I’m not the life of a party, I won’t start a long chat with a person I don’t know or for whom I have no patience.
In shul I’ll ignore the stranger and let others take care of him, at most I’ll offer a Siddur(prayer book) .
I don’t walk around smiling right and left, I often have a serious disposition and I’m so terribly bad at cheering someone up.

But I’m not pessimistic either. I can feel truly happy at times and believe in a better future. Sometimes I feel Moshiach to be so close that I experience a moment of immense hopefulness, and that’s a priceless emotion.
But I would never be hired to be put in front of entrances. I just don’t fit that profile.

To all of you who do have the patience, the innate kindness, the getting involved bug, to you I say thank you.
Unbeknownst to us when you smile or when you ask how we’ve been you make us feel good, at the very least better.
It often appears we have no patience and are annoyed by your interference but deep down we’re looking forward to the next we'll meet you on the street!

Comments:
Hear, hear!
I wish I could be that cheerful and happy and optimistic all the time.
Kol HaKavod to those who are! You inspire me.
 
Some people just have this inner 'chen' that really shines through and you can just tell that they are good people. They smile, they are cheerful, they honestly care. If this is the type of person you are referring to, then I agree... they are wonderful people. They are also rare.
 
Funny you should mention, I'm usually smiling and vivicious most of the time, just short of bouncing off walls with a well's supply of enthusiasm UNTIL I walk into a department store and phoney smiling sales clerks start ravenously looking my way, shpritzing every inch of breathable air with flowery, cloying perfumes.
 
Optimists are never pleasantly surprised.
 
Hey, theres a question for you on my blog - the Should I quit or not post..
 
Sarah- It’s a great goal to aim for!

Frumgirl- Yes they are the ones I meant. And I agree they’re too rare.

Erica- Obviously they’re not doing their jobs very well, cause theoretically they’re supposed to make you feel important.
I actually pictured you as this type of person.

Lewis- that’s a truism:) I’m glad there’s a good side at not being too optimistic too!

Shevy I’m on my way!
 
Nu, Life is painful enough as it is....
why make ourselves one of the painful necessities to dealt with in life?

but seriously...

there's a gemara, [don't remember where]
that people should look at you and say..
'ashrei mi she lamdo torah'
people should meet a jew and say, a person who learns torah is lucky!

and Masmida goes chasing off her own tangents.
 
Could it be that it is a very American way to always smile and be "overly" happy. Working in Europe is just a bit different, people are often cold and almost unfriendly. I learnt from my colleagues, who in the beginning I thought were too much to take, how nice it is to work with people who are friendly and smile (you can even feel the smile through the phone!!). I try my best now to do the same.

One of my best friends is from NY and she is exactly what your describing and she is my true inspiration. I think she makes a lot of people feel good about themselves and makes them happy just by being around. I hope I can be more like her every day.
 
Could it be that it is a very American way to always smile and be "overly" happy. Working in Europe is just a bit different, people are often cold and almost unfriendly. I learnt from my colleagues, who in the beginning I thought were too much to take, how nice it is to work with people who are friendly and smile (you can even feel the smile through the phone!!). I try my best now to do the same.

One of my best friends is from NY and she is exactly what your describing and she is my true inspiration. I think she makes a lot of people feel good about themselves and makes them happy just by being around. I hope I can be more like her every day.
 
People I work with often tell me that it's nice to see that I always have a smile on my face.

Sometimes though too smiley or cheerful is a bit much. I had a navi teacher in 9th grade who used to be like that. With a big smile on her face she would say "Rivka...you failed..."
we used to joke around about it and look at our friend with a big smile and curse them out just to make fun of this teacher!
 
I also fully appreciate those who are super-friendly. I am friendly, but only after I have a inkling of the person you are first. Sounds terrible, I know - but since I naturally turn heads at any Jewish event or social situation, I try to avoid unnecessary attention whenever possible. It's sort of an invitation for the "wrong person" to just start asking questions I won't be too comfortable answering. On the other hand, if the entire night goes by and no one has said anything to me (has happened a couple times), I feel about 1 inch high. But why should I? I didn't initiate anything. {Sigh} I guess the answer just isn't as black and white as I would like it to be.
 
smiling happy people are nice to see but only when their behavior is truly genuine. i agree with erica, people whose artifical joy you can smell from a mile away tends to annoy the Dickens out of us less "other conscious" people.

be optimistic about your disposition: if you expect nothing and prepare for the worst- life is always full of suprises and unexpected joy.
see, there is such thing as a pragmatic/pessimistic/realistic optimist.
 
I agree with Lewis! (and Missshona... understand fully)

I want to share a story though, about the value of smiling.
One time, during morning assembly and tefillah in high school, a different teacher was filling in for the principal for a while, overseeing things. Mornings in high school are not fun, kids come late, talk and make noise during tefillah and i guess it would be hard for the teachers to stay cheerful and calm and not get annoyed. On one particular morning, the senior teacher came in to the hall and just stood, smiling calmly the whole way through tefillah, seemingly without being aggravated. I guess us students were just surprised at not being told off that everyone behaved on their own accord and the whole atmosphere was just more pleasant.
Now this teacher then explained later that even though she may have been irritated or annoyed, she kept up the smile and eventually began to feel that way, happy. And that mood was felt by the whole school that morning making tefillah and assembly a much more pleasant experience. The students respected that.
So a smile goes a long way... even if you are not perpetually chirpy, give it a go more often!! :)
 
Read this poem somewhere, thought it worthy of sharing.

Smiling is infectious,
you catch it like the flu.
When someone smiled at me today
I started smiling too.

I passed around the corner,
and someone saw my grin.
When he smiled I realized,
I'd passed it on to him.

I thought about that smile,
then I realized its worth.
A single smile just like mine,
could travel round the earth.

So, if you feel a smile begin,
don't leave it undetected.
Let's start an epidemic quick,
and get the world infected!

Oh and i cut out these last lines from another,

If someone is to tired to give you a smile, leave one of yours.
For, nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none to give.


But of course the truth is a smile is like a compliment,if not delivered with the right intent then it might as well be a frown.
Like on the topic of shopping, try walking into a classy store dressed like a "shlump" or very casual, and then try the same store while dressed to kill, guaranteed a big change in smiles and sevice.
Smile at me, not my wallet!
 
It is amazing what a smile and heartfelt greeting can do. I love receiving both, so try to genuinely give both as often as possible.
 
Though I am not "naturally" an all-time smiling person... I work very hard to be that way (and genuinely FEEL that way).

I've always secretly admired those natural smilers and make-me-and-everyone-feel-gooders... I try my best to do/be that too.

(Though I wish I was "born that way" I think ultimately those of us who have to work harder... will get a bigger reward from Hashem for doing something that is not "natural" and have to concentrate to do/be that.)
 
I kind of hate when people pry. I mean smile all you want, I think smiling and looking and acting friendly even when you feel not so friendly is a nice thing. But I've been places where all of a sudden they want to know anything and everything they can get me to answer while I squirm uncomfortably in my chair.

-EC
 
I'm sort of one of those people - not the chatterbox, not the one with a goofy grin all the time, i certainly don't pry into peoples' lives...but I sort of chat with and smile at a lot of the people I encounter during the day - the doorman, people on the elevator, joke with people. I like connecting and I like putting a smile on someone's face.
 
Masmida- As usual, gevaldige vertel, .so are you the chirpy type?

Mia-I think you’re right Europeans are generally closer and cloder, even in stores salesclerks often barely look at you.

Rebecca- I guess your Morah went a little too far, but perhaps she just wanted to cushion the blow.
But she was actually the type of person I was trying to describe.

Misshona- Oh I’m exactly like that, unless someone bothers to approach me, I’ll stay on the side, then when no one does, I get upset and feel deeply insulted.

Hindi- I’ll aim to be all those things. It’s good you can trace the phonies, it’ll save you a lot of money :)
Thanks for posting your thoughts.

Sarah- Great story, with an important lesson imbued, I really believe you catch more bees with honey!

Chassidiche sahaigitz- Thanks for sharing this beautiful poem.
It would be a good test to see how well trained these smilers really are.

Stacey –I presumed you were the type who didn’t hold back a smile!

Turquoise- You’re completely right, if you work harder to achieve something that is second nature to others your reward will be greater.
Now let me see that smile :)

Eshet – I see you’re still anonymous. I agree the prying can make you uncomfortable, but these people usually really mean well not to use that information against you.

Mata- The middle way is often he ideal one, not too much nor too little!
 
Prag you are very good at cheering me up mate,with your blog and your comments.I just can't believe that you are not a party animal though.I think i 'll hire one of my kids to smile at my front door.Not for the marketing ploy just out of madness.
 
as i was reading your post, i was thinking "g*d i hate those people!" or at least, those in the department store and in the more commercial parts of life.
however, i do try to be friendly and smile and say hello. you never know whose day you might change with a kind word. it might not be as dramatic as saving a person who was contemplating suicide, but that smile could change many things.
 
Excellent topic.

To me, I try every day, no matter what is happening to stay peaceful, for myself mainly. That may mean being optomistic, or positive, but I know how devouring negative energy and stress can be. This does not mean that I do not cry, feel pain, or powerless, I just know my limitations as a human being. When I accept life as it is rather than how I want it to be or turn out, usually, I find some peace.

That being said, there is nothing wrong with being pragmatic.

Good shabbos.
 
Patt- Great to see you’re back, sounds like a marvellous idea, let me know how it worked out!

Bec- well suicide is big, a simple smile is probably not sufficient, but for lesser worries is can.

Barbara- Indeed it’s the healthiest way to look at life, so many things are not in our hand and if we accept that, we can be cheerful about our lives and look for the good things.
 
I'm not anon anymore!!! I got my blogging priviledges back. :P
 
I actually go up to strangers in shule and try to make them comfortable. In jerusalem, we are blessed with many visitors. I invite many guests to my home.You, on the other hand are distant/unfriendly to strangers-this si no good and against the grain of Judaism. I hope you have a hacnasas orchim committee.
 
just to say I also try to smile a lot -I once did a telephone skills communications course
remember to smile when on the phone-the smile really comes thru
prag be well you are really very important to us your blogging friends
there I've exhausted my quota of 2 comments per post on your site so I'll just have to go and hang out on Frum girls site
 
Prag..
I'm the same way. I have a very hard time faking moods.
If I want to be friendly I will be anmd if I'm just not in the mood..I cant fake it..
 
Excellent post.

Reminds me of when I was with a friend and my face looked sad but I wasn't at all. And they said, what's wrong? And I said, nothing.

By the way,
I like to be both cautious and optimistic.
 
Well, ive gone through all 27 posts and I must say WOW! I mean yes, i like to smile i always wish I was able to smile even when im feeling down/PMSing not happy with my job or im stressed, it is hard to smile then. But from reading all these comments, i feel i've been put to shame OR on the optimists point of view... I'll be more aware to smile more often. However, one thing about "smiley" people that does get me nervous is when they are smiling at you as your are talking to them and still smiling when they talk back to you. I mean gosh life ISNT THAT great all the time. Why can't you talk normally, sometimes those smiles are fake. just be normal.
 
I wish I could smile more often, but honestly it just depends on my mood. I'll have a day when there is nothing short of a major crisis that could bring me down from my happy cloud. I'll smile at people on the train, joke all day and its great. But sometimes you just need to be in a bad, down in the dumps, nothing short of a miracle will cheer me up mood. The day after that always seems much brighter.
 
On paper it sounds great. They are happy, they are smiley, they are friendly and affectionate. Everyone wishes they were like that or knew someone like that. The sad truth is that I know people like that and they honestly bug the hell out of me. I dont even really know why. Its not their fault, I know its mine. But it just irks me deep down.


I know thats mean to say, and I dont mean to offend anyone, but thats just honestly how I feel.
 
shet-welcome back

Datingmaster – I’m not proud of it, obviously it’s better to welcome strangers and invite them over, I’m just not the type to socialize easily. I ‘m sure you’re a great and entertaining host to your guests kol hakavod!
And thanks for keeping the quota, enjoy FG’s blog!

David- I know how this works, but it needs to be worked on, by the both of us.

LVNS -Good philosophy! Being optimistic permits one to live like a mentsh, but a little caution can never hurt.

Imfullofit –Fake smiles can bother more than they help, yet some people keep smiling, regardless of who talks, it’s their nature.
Thanks for posting your thoughts on this blog!

Rbr –I’m in this category too, we try but we can’t fake or force our moods.
Thanks for commenting.

Xvi –Well they do irk people, the point of this post was that although we are annoyed by their constant smiles and overfriendliness , deep down we need them and appreciate them.
 
Prag i decided to post my feelings on the cartoon situation after considering your comment.I dont think i sent the message i wanted to send but hopefully i have made my feelings and concerns clear in my latest post.
yours forever humble.
Patt
 
Prag - Your post makes me think of that old joke, you know, this-this-this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, "Doc, uh, my brother's crazy. He thinks he's a chicken." And, uh, the doctor says, "Well, why don't you turn him in?" And the guy says, "I would, but I need the eggs."
 
Yakki-Good joke, though I fail to see how my post reminded you of that one.
 
I was just looking at the girl who shares my apartment, and I realized shes one of thos people that always seems happy to other people, and it annoys them. But when she comes home, she is always sad and complaining. I even think shes borderline depressed. How can someone smile at everyone when they are really so sad?
 
I usually smile when I look at someone straight in the face. To me it is a matter of respect. I have a more positive attitude and I think of myself as a people person. I look at smiling, at someone, as a way of saying a visual hello.

Don't worry if you are not a smilley person. Your inner feelings are what's more important. If we were to meet as strangers, don't think of me as a "fake" if I smile at you, it is just my personality.
 
rbr - sometimes it's easier to smile at people when you are feeling down just to avoid having to explain why you are feeling that way. it's not necessarily fake, maybe just a coping mechanism.
 
rbr try to cheer your roomie up!

lucy different cultures do different things. in japan being extroverted is looked down upon, but in america being friendly and extroverted is looked highly upon. frankly i think it pays to be friendly and smile..as cheesy as that sounds.

prag the "such small portions" line is from the intro monologue to Annie Hall (a Woody Allen flick), and the joke is from the end monologue. now i feel like i know pointless information..
 
Rbr- perhaps not to make others feels a sad as she does or perhaps by smiling to other she feels better. When you smile to someone often you’re rewarded with a smile in return, depressed people need that!

Lucy –and it’s a great personality. It’s not that I never smile, I try to smile as much as I can, especially when greeting others, but I can’t’ overdo it like some people seem to can.
And I admire people like you who can and do keep smiling regardless of their own personal mood.


Yakki –cheesy is good in this case, it pays if you consider making others happy gainful.
I used to know lots of movie trivia, nothing wrong with that, but l my interests have shifted.
 
It was kinda hard to describe her by typing. But I guess you got the picture. I'm sick of being too nice. I always end up getting upset for some reason or another!
 
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