How James Got His Groove Back, Part Two

Smile 2

The Golden Rule

Waaaaaaaaaaay back on September 3rd, I made a post about how I wanted to get my “groove” back. By my definition, groove is what I call the ability to be in complete (or as near complete) control of your physical and emotional responses as possible. I relate it to Morpheus walking against the flow of pedestrian traffic in the Matrix film, talking, maintaining his cool and avoiding even the slightest contact with the droves of people as they went about their lives. He was cool. He was aware and in step with the world, even though he was pushing against it. He was one with The Force.

To begin my journey toward regaining even the first ounce of this mystical energy from my youth, I have been easing my way into changing habits over the past few weeks. First, I’ve initiated a “no negative response” to the workplace and home life. What I mean is, when someone at work – for example – begins to talk negatively on a subject, or start to gossip about another coworker, I immediately try to turn the situation around and redirect the conversation. It sounds like something simple, I know, but you would have to understand and experience my workplace for yourself, as well as some of the people I work with.

So, be more positive. Meet the negatives head on and attempt to turn them around. Check.

Another challenge is to simply smile. Meeting and greeting someone with a smile can affect everything that comes immediately after it.

Even seeing someone from across the way and offering them a smile could have more impact that we might assume. Once upon a time, I smiled even when I didn’t feel like it. I went to work, put on a smile and carried it with me as part of my uniform. Vest, name badge, smile. It made the grand majority of my dealings with the public much better than they could have been.

Smile, it might just make all the difference in the world. Check.

Many times I find myself in a situation with nothing good to say and I don’t feel like smiling or even attempting to talk my way out of a negative conversation. In this case, I have simply been laughing and shaking my head. Laughter sometimes throws people off and makes them unsure if you’re laughing at them, with them or if you’re just plain crazy. So I laugh. One co-worker in particular is a giant bag of walking negativity and gossip. He lives to insult and make fun of people and talk the company down with every breath of air he takes. So I’ve been responding by laughing and shaking my head. He just stares at me, as if confused.

Laugh. It confuses the weak ones. Check.

These are three simple things I’ve worked into my daily routine. They may not seem like much, but in my environment, it makes a huge difference in my interactions with folks every day. My motto has, after all, for the past 11 years been: “Laugh and nod your head, sometimes it’s all you can do.

One last thing that I’ve slipped into my goal of changing for the better is improving my conversational habits. I work in an environment where it basically boils down to: assimilate or be ran out. If you don’t work yourself into the mentality of everyone else around you in my workplace, they will quickly single you out and make your working hours difficult as possible. Over 11 years, I’ve assimilated myself into this group of people, and as a result I’ve mentally dumbed myself down. That may sound cruel and negative considering I’m talking about over 150-200 other people, but it is true. Most conversations at work consist of discussions involving drugs, alcoholism, gambling and/or other illegal activities.

I have slipped into a comfort zone, which in this case is, “the stupider you act, the better off you are.” I’m sure that doesn’t make sense, but again, it’s a situation you have to be involved in. I’ve gone all these years lacking strong, intellectual conversation. I rarely get to hang out with friends outside of work and my family contact is limited as well. My wife and son and I talk, but it is basic family issues or casual conversation. It is rare I sit around and discuss world news, what books I’ve read lately, go into detailed conversation about movies or television series (I know, not the most intelligent conversation there) – just talking, conversing one on one, having debates or pointing out in detail various points and counterpoints. I’m like a caveman, grunting and pointing and uttering monosyllabic responses to questions.

I’m correcting that started a couple of weeks ago. Right now i’m starting slow, working my own versions of conversations in at work and around the house. So far, my wife just stares at me and is attempting to converse. But at work, they look at me like I’m an alien. Often times I’m asked to repeat myself or asked what I mean when I actually use a word that you can find in a dictionary instead of slang or short-handed conversation.

If that last part confuses you, I understand. But it’s something I have to deal with. I’m not saying I’m smarter than anyone else I work with, but I think they, too, have fallen into the same situation. They’ve been assimilated into our environment for so long that it’s affected them as well. So when I try to bust out of the mold and hold decent conversations that don’t involve discussing how much cocaine someone has snorted or weed they’ve smoked, or how much beer I guzzled – it’s alarming to them.

I’m no better than anyone else, but I can strive to better myself regardless of anyone else’s opinion of me.

So step one is in motion, and one day – maybe even a year or more from now – I hope to have results in this attempt to recover the clarity I held at that particular point in my life a decade ago. I’ve gotten weak, let myself go mentally and physically, and I feel older than I should. It’s time for some change! 🙂


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