Have a nice day!
I hear this benign little saying – a social nicety – practically every day, and sometimes several times a day if I’m out and about running errands or going through a drive-through. It’s become such a rote response to a human encounter that, most of the time, I half-acknowledge it with a nod and smile.
Today, though, was different. I was leaving the YMCA after a fitness class, feeling exhilarated and joyful because I’d just spent some much-needed time caring for myself, when I passed the front desk. The man working there turned in my direction, swift as a prairie dog, and said, “Have a nice day!” His smile was genuine, and his voice was as bright and enthusiastic as sunshine.
Now, I realize that his job is to greet members, but it was the way he performed his duties that made me pause.
Here was this joyful stranger sending me well-wishes for a nice day. And at that moment in time, I felt a little tug at my heart, thanks to his kindness and thoughtfulness.
Or maybe it was the endorphins kicking in after exercising.
Whatever the cause, the result was a euphoric feeling of connection. One human being offering a ray of light to another.
In our culture, sayings like Have a nice day! have become synonymous with Goodbye! and Later!, and we don’t often appreciate the meaning of them. How many times have you said Love you! to a family member before you parted ways for the day and received a mumble in return (or with a teenager, the verbal response is typically replaced with an eye roll)?
What a glorious gift it is to know that someone cares so deeply about you and wants to share that connection with you by saying I love you! before going off in separate directions; yet how bizarre is it that this saying has become so watered down in meaning that we really don’t really hear the profound message in those three or – more often with the abbreviated version – two little words?
My encounter this morning at the YMCA has awakened something in me. From now on, I vow to use these sayings with intention; I will clearly articulate my words while I make eye contact, so that the words seem less like a saying and more like a meaning.
Like the man at the YMCA, I, too, want to offer a ray of light to others. Little things do add up to make a difference. And rays of light can band together to illuminate the world.