I used to be a grease monkey.
My first ever job was at a Texaco service station. Pumping gas, fixing flat tires, oil changes, selling soda and cigarettes. It wasn't a job where people gave tips. Or, if they did, it was like, "Engel, don't eat yellow snow."
Healthcare is also not a field where tips are customary. I mean, can you imagine going to a routine doctor's appointment and handing the physician some greenbacks? Ya know, for the effort.
This last month while keynoting across New England, at Wendtworth-Douglass Hospital in New Hampshire, I met a nurse named Terri. Terri is in charge of Nursing Education and Organizational Development, but she worked at the bedside for years. She told this story:
"One day, I went out to my mail box and there was an envelope that just read, 'Terri.' Inside was a letter that simply read, 'Thank you for taking care of me. You really helped me.' The note was not signed, there was no return address, nothing. Inside that envelope there were three $100 bills."
Terri didn't take long to ponder the "what to do now?" question, she just immediately took the cash and paid it forward by donating it to a cancer charity.
I loved hearing this story!
This patient expressed gratitude in a language that made sense for them: cash. Nurse Terry turned around and expressed gratitude by donating to a charity. The folks that started the charity probably experienced loss due to the painfulness that is cancer and turned that experience into a work that brings hope to others.
The Hotness and I have a standing rule:
always be generous. And we've learned something: Generosity breeds gratitude. They just go together.
During the holidays, we have MORE than a healthy dose of time to practice a spirit of generosity. Being around extra-large crowds. Additional family members. Stressed out patients. And our own pressures of the "season." It's the perfect time to stop: practice being fully in the moment. Look for ways to honor the space we are in and to see,
really see, others and where they are.
And there are SOOOOO many things we have to offer! How about grace during interactions when someone is telling us the same story for the fifth time. Maybe it's just taking a moment to be completely present for another person, or truly listening to a different view, maybe simply offering a smile or a hello to a stranger.
Please remember that the best forms of generosity don't cost us, they pay us. And more than anything the return we get is a heart full of gratitude. If you're struggling at all this holiday -
I promise you the sweetest returns come from finding gratitude in the hard places.
Thanks for all the loving care you share all year long. I know you guys are the best of the best - and I'm honored to call you friends.
And from our home to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!