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Go ahead, make someone’s day

  • Published
  • By Major Linda Hampton
  • Commander, 43rd Force Support Squadron
As I was driving back from a recent trip I took up to Northern Virginia, I was chatting with my friend on the phone. She had been going through a tough time: moving to another country, adjusting to a new job and struggling with stresses of life. As she was organizing her belongings for the move, she told me she came across a piece of paper with a story someone had e-mailed to her a long time ago. She couldn't remember why she had kept this piece of paper but unfolded the page and began to read it. 

The story was about two men who occupied the same hospital room. Due to their illnesses, both men had to spend long stays in the hospital on their backs; however one man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. 

The men talked for hours each day sharing stories on their families, their jobs, their military service, etc. Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window: the beautiful lake, ducks swimming and playing, flowers of every color surrounding the landscape and a view of the city's skyline in the distance. The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. 

One morning, the nurse arrived to find the man by the window unresponsive. He had died peacefully in his sleep. After he was taken away and as soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved to the other side of the room. The nurse was happy to make the switch for him. Painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take a look at the magnificent view his roommate had described to him. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. 

To his surprise there was no window, just a blank wall. The man asked the nurse why his deceased roommate would describe such a wonderful scene to him outside an imaginary window. The nurse said, "He was blind and couldn't see anything. Perhaps he told you those stories because he just wanted to make your day better." 

Reading this story again made my friend feel better about the struggles she was facing. She told me she began to see the positive aspects of her move and was excited to begin her next journey. I would venture to say we all work with someone like the blind man. 

Someone who, no matter how bad their day might be going, will find something positive about it and find a way to share it with those around them. At my last assignment, this was Senior Master Sgt. Dalhoff. Every time I saw him in the hallways, I would greet him and ask how he was doing. He always had the same enthusiasm in his routine response, "I'm living the American Dream, ma'am ... I'm living the American Dream!" 

Just hearing his conviction in his words made me feel grateful for the life I am privileged to live and made me feel better about anything trivial that might have happened that day. 

It doesn't take much to make a positive impression on those around you. It is about recognizing how your behavior affects others. Simple acts of kindness can make a world of difference in someone else's day. Opening the door for people behind you, giving a compliment to someone that seems to be having a bad day and my favorite, smile a lot (it's contagious.) You never know whose day you will make by taking the time to find the good in life and sharing those moments. Remember, you create the scene outside your window.