There are people we meet in life who make a lasting impression on us, teach us things and act as future role models. They may be teachers, colleagues friends and even strangers. I suspect that they will probably never know the positive difference they made – that’s a pity. This is the story of the brief encounter I had that taught me a valuable life lesson.

Lesson from a stranger

It was more than four years ago that I came across someone who taught me a great lesson, one I have never forgotten. Early one morning, in Grand Central Station, New York, I heard a cheerful voice saying Good Morning, and other friendly greetings to everyone that passed by. A man was giving out a free newspaper on one of the train platforms and I couldn’t help thinking, ‘how can be so relentless upbeat doing such a repetitive job?’.

My own experience

Now, I had a lot of experience in the world of saying good morning and goodbye to people. After decades of being a member of cabin crew, I knew what it was like to maintain an authentic smile, as passenger boarded and disembarked the aircraft, but this man (I didn’t know his name) made it seem effortless. What’s more, he was so engaging that when he looked me in the eye and wished me a good day, I felt better. What a gift I thought, I wonder how many other people had felt better after that moment’s connection in their busy day as they travelled to work?

Capturing the moment

I used my phone to capture the moment because I knew I would tell others about this unusual encounter in the city of New York and then, like everyone else, I got on with my own busy day. Returning back, more than an hour later, there he was still, just as pleasant and agreeable as he had been before. This time, I decided to ask him ‘What makes you so happy?’, I really wanted to know. His reply, astonished me and I’ve never forgotten it.


Me: ‘So why are you so happy?’ “Because I have such a rough life and being pleasant is what makes it easier. That’s all. [Good morning]”  Me: It’s that simple? “Yes, it’s that simple. I just wish people a lovely day. Things is rough and it’s not always good and making other people makes my day go better. That’s all! ” Me: And you’ve got a lovely smile! “Thank you.” Before I left I asked, ‘What’s your name?’. “Prophet” he said.

Master Lesson

Whilst studying for a Masters degree in Applied Positive Psychology I was taught the theory of such things as posttraumatic growth, resilience,, growth mindset, kindness, hope and optimism but Prophet showed me what they looked like applied in real life. What would the world be like if those of us facing adversity chose to make ourselves feel better by making other people feel better? How many of us would even think to smile and be cheerful when we were struggling in life?

Thank you for the lesson Prophet and I hope wherever you are today that your life is no longer rough and things are good. x


Please noteI am an early riser and frequently wake up with thoughts and questions on my mind. I write them down and record them in these short unedited, un-researched, unscientific bits of writing. They are written in a half asleep hypnopompic state and should not be regarded as anything more than what they are – random thoughts and musings. For sensible subjects and writing please visit Positive Psychology Learning website