How can we magnify the gratitude effect? A brief encounter at Whole Foods reminded me of the power of making things personal.
I’ve made it a practice to stay off of my phone while I wait in line at Whole Foods.
Instead of scrolling through Instagram or Facebook or Twitter I use that time to practice mindfulness. I observe my surroundings and the people around me.
Even on days when I am extremely tired – especially on those days – I make a point to approach the checkout station with a smile and a greeting for the person behind the register.
Tonight I noticed how Brandon, my cashier at Register 12, packed my food so purposefully and intentionally. This is not unusual at Whole Foods. I’m assuming that this is part of the training that cashiers receive: how to wrap and pack the food in the bags.
After I hit Apple Pay to pay for my groceries and receive my receipt I turned to Brandon, looked him in the eye, and said
Thank you, Brandon. Have a good night.
His whole face lit up. It was as though he had been seen today for the first time.
I’ll admit that although I thank the cashier every time, sometimes I forget to thank them by name.
The Whole Foods cashiers wear aprons with their name written on the front. This makes it easy to call someone by their name. After all, I don’t think the names are there for their benefit only. If they were, they would be on the inside. The names are on the front so that we can use them. But even with that reminder in front of me, sometimes I forget how powerful it can be.
I don’t think I’ll forget anytime soon.
Brandon’s reaction was noticeable. His eyes lit up. He grinned from ear to ear. I could feel his energy lift him off the ground and took my spirits with it. For a brief moment, we soared together, as we embraced the energy of gratitude.
He responded with his own thank you and wished me a good weekend.
The brief exchange was so simple, and yet so profound. It reminded me of the power that exists in a name. It reminded me of the power of showing someone else that you see them, and that you hear them.
I have been marinating a lot this week about our profound need as human beings to feel seen and heard. Two simple needs that don’t get the attention they deserve.
The simple act, not only of gratitude but of personalized acknowledgment, elevated at least two people tonight. I’d venture to guess that the effect carried over to other people who interacted with Brandon at Register 12 this evening, although, admittedly, I didn’t stick around to watch.
As I walked down the block to my building, not even a traffic jam and honking horns and the steady pulse of a cold fall rain could dampen my spirits.
What if that was all it took to start a shift in ourselves and our external environment?
To look someone in the eye and acknowledge them by name.
To interact with a person, rather than a screen.
To embrace your shared humanity with a stranger.
In one simple act, in a few short words, I helped Brandon feel seen.
I looked him in the eye and took a moment to express my appreciation, not just to a faceless and nameless cashier, but to Brandon, who packed my groceries with purpose and care.
And in the moment when his eyes lit up and he grinned from ear to ear, I felt heard.
It was a shared human experience on a cold and rainy night, in what is often a faceless and nameless city.
It was the epitome of a magic moment.
That’s the power of a name.
That’s the power of making things personal.