Up until recently, when he relocated to another state, we had a letter carrier whom I will call “Mike”. Mike was no ordinary postal worker. Yes, he was good at his job—we never had to worry about our mail being delivered to someone else’s house, or finding mail on the sidewalk somewhere having out of a letter carrier’s bag. But what made Mike really extraordinary was his joyful personality. He always took a moment to exchange pleasantries with the neighbors on his route, yet the mail was always on time, no matter what the weather. He proudly wore his uniform each day—all neat, clean and shirt tucked in– but the best part of his uniform was something he hadn’t been instructed to wear by the US Post Office: It was his smile. I never saw him without it!
Mike always took care to go the extra mile and leave packages at the back door if he knew you weren’t home from work yet. If it was raining, he made sure the package was wrapped in plastic or left under an awning or covering. Engaging each person on his route with exuberance and positivity, Mike would point out some small wonder he had just noticed—as if it was the first time he had ever seen that species of flower, bird, tree or that great dog he ran into just moments earlier who was now chomping away on the cookie bone he had given him. Before long the oldest of the “elders” on our street would want to adopt him as their own. They would save him a piece of their homemade pie, or give him a few vegetables form their gardens, or run out with a cold drink in the heat of summer. In short, this (extra)ordinary letter carrier had become an extended family member in our neighborhood. When he left to relocate back to his home state halfway across the country, he truly left a void that was once filled with the positive energy that made everyone with whom he came in contact—feel just a little bit better about their day. That is the power of personality—regardless of age, financial status, or career field.
Mike had the kind of personality that best-selling author Dr. Daniel Goleman might have called “emotional intelligence”. His personality drew people to him like a magnet, instead of driving them away or inciting an argument. Everyone Mike came in contact with felt just a little better than before they interacted with him. His personality exuded positive emotions, like joy, interest, and contentment.
The way we present ourselves to the world has a powerful effect on life satisfaction. In fact, researchers consider personality to be one of the strongest and most consistent predictors of well-being. Polishing our own personalities, or our “way of being” with more joy and positivity leads to the kind of social connectivity that can lead us to a happier, and even longer life.
A joyful and welcoming demeanor draws people to us. They want to be in our company because it makes them feel good. On the other hand, a negative or abrasive personality does the opposite. A litigious personality can extinguish our social life; and even lead to life-threatening state of loneliness. There is no reason to start an argument or abandon friends and family because they believe, think, or vote differently than us. Our differences can be our collective assets—– and our commonalities are usually much greater anyway.
It’s not rocket science, and it’s not hard. Just be kind. Let your joy shine through. Give others a word of encouragement, not a judgmental dig. And remind yourself to adhere to the simple advice of Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends and Influence People): SMILE!
©Raeleen Mautner Ph.D, LLC 2021