Today I met the most wonderful man working at a McDonalds about 3 hours south of Kansas City who had the best philosophy for how to live a good life.  My husband and I were south of Springfield attending the regional Color Guard Championships for our youngest child.  We had already watched her performance and talked to her, and she was feeling a lot of stress waiting for the results. She wanted her group to win or at least place (they were seeded 5th) and she was super stressed out about it.  I’d like to say that my therapist skills have made me the most awesome Mom, but I’m pretty human as a Mom and I screw it up all of the time.  However, I’ve learned from working with the Brene´ Brown Daring Way™ curriculum that you can always “circle back” and re-do a conversation or repair a misunderstanding.  I’ll be circling back with my daughter because I was so dumbfounded that she was stressed out AFTER the performance that I completely didn’t respond with empathy and said something dumb like “just let it go” which is akin to telling a depressed person to just “be happy.”  It doesn’t work that way.

Anyway, back to my new friend Jeff.  I overheard him talking to some other customers about life, so I struck up a conversation with him.  He’s quite the guy.  He had the most fabulous smile, an infectious joy, and a very engaging personality.  He appeared to love his job and loved interacting with other customers.  I loved how his eyes lit up when he talked.  He moved briskly around the McDonald’s cleaning the floor and drink area, chatting with customers, wiping the tables, and venturing into the freezing cold outside to pick up trash.  In fact, I even saw him skip and do a little dance.  As an aside, this isn’t an advertisement for McDonald’s, but I have met some of the most amazing older people working at McDonald’s so I am personally grateful that they are so open-mind about hiring older employees.

Again, back to my new friend Jeff.  This is where it gets really good.  He told me that his philosophy for living a good life is to enjoy every day to the fullest.  He said he would never forget being with his grandfather when he was 10-years-old and watching his grandfather’s best friend suddenly pass away right in front of them.  He said, “my grandfather told me to always remember this day, that life was short and you need to live each day to the fullest.”

I showed Jeff what I was writing and he read it over my shoulder as I was typing on my laptop.  He smiled and waiting patiently while I typed down exactly what he said.  He added, “Nothing is forever.  Don’t live in the past.  Live in the moment; grab it with both hands and don’t let go.”  I just love this: Live in the moment; grab it with both hands and don’t let go. How profound those simple words are.

My interchange with Jeff prompted me to  immediately write this post before I lost the moment.  I’m going to share this story with my daughter when I circle back to talk with her.  I wish she could adopt Jeff’s philology to live a good life right now, as a teen, but I know I didn’t figure it out until I was much, much older.  Still, I wish I could make this wisdom stick on her.  It is such an anecdote to stress.  And our teens are experiencing the highest historical anxiety levels.

So the next time you are at a McDonald’s, or are cruising through Costco on the day they give out samples, take the time to talk with one of the older persons working there.  Ask them about their lives.  And really listen to them.  They are filled with golden nuggets of wisdom about their philosophy of life.

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