How to stay positive at work

Every Saturday night, Em and I work the bar together. Em is one of those people who you have to know to love (tough skin also helps). Luckily I’ve grown to know and love her. One thing that really gets Em spun up at work is being shorted on a tip.

For those who work or have worked in the restaurant industry, you get it. We work for tips, not wages. Trust me, I have been there too. Like a flip of a switch, I would let one bad tip ruin the rest of my night. But I have learned that it doesn’t have to be like that.

So one Saturday evening, its busy, we are doing our thing (you know, being awesome and whatnot) and a guest orders two draft beers. Keep in mind, that is a total of $7.50.

Being that we work in DC, we get a lot of tourists. It was easy to tell from their accents that these guests were from out of the country.

We pour the beers, they pay, they walk off.

Em opens up the check book, no tip.

I have been fortunate enough to have traveled outside the country many a times. And I will be the first to admit that I don’t know the tipping custom in many other countries but my own. So its understandable that these guests wouldn’t leave a tip.

But not to Em. Her mood was instantly changed when she opened that checkbook, like that flip of a switch, you know what I’m talking about. She was going to let the lack of tip affect her all night.

Of course, she came to me to complain about the situation. So I asked, “If they left a 20% tip on $7.50, how much would that be?”. “$1.50”, she answered. “So after splitting that with me you would get 75 cents… are you really going to let 75 cents ruin the rest of your night?”. She laughed.

She realized that it was only a such a big deal to her because she made it a big deal.
Like so many things in life.

Sound familiar?

How I stay positive at work

  1. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

    It is often the little things that have the greatest effects on us. But! They don’t have to. As soon as you feel yourself having negative thoughts or a negative reaction towards any situation, ask yourself “Is this really worth being upset about right now?” The answer is usually always “No”. I can easily ask myself this question in many different scenarios. Especially driving.  As you may or may not know, Washington DC has some of the worth traffic (and drivers).  I used to be fuming every drive after constantly being cut off, almost ran into, honked at, you name it. I used to let people fire me up. Luckily, I was quickly able to diminish my road rage by asking myself that simple question, “Is this really worth being upset about right now?” “Am I going to let this little thing ruin the rest of my drive, the rest of my shift or the rest of my night?” “I don’t think so!”

  2. Find the Silver Lining

    Yeah, its easy to find the negatives in things. I find that we can be very pessimistic at time. But why? Life becomes a lot more beautiful and happy when you can find the joy in things, especially the little things. Instead of complaining and getting upset that you got a 15% tip instead of a 20% tip, think “at least I got something”.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, currently (Aug 2017) there are almost 7 million people unemployed in the US. 7 million people. And you know what, if you’re working in a restaurant right now, you are luckily not one of them. So that lower than expected tip is still better than nothing. Which is unfortunately the reality for many people. There is always a silver lining, you just have to be willing to find it.

  3. Stop Complaining

    We have all heard the phrase “Misery loves company”, and it is true. When you have fellow sufferers, it makes unhappiness easier to bare. But you know what? Happiness loves company too. Why bare the unhappiness, when you can enjoy the happiness? When you complain to others, you are just fueling your own misery. Learn to live presently. One beautiful things about time is that it is continuous. It’s not stopping, speeding up or ending (hopefully not any time soon at least).  But often we let our emotions and feelings get stuck in the past or we get tied up in what will be. A little piece of advice, there is no point in getting upset about something that has already happened. It has happened and there is nothing you can do (besides build a time machine) to change it. And the future, that is completely unknown. The only moment we have is the present moment. So when you get that shitty tip, crappy section or rude table, let it go. Its happened, its done with and there is no point in letting it ruin your day. When you go around complaining to others, you holding in negative emotions and thoughts from the past. So, just let that shit go.

  4. Help Others Stay Positive

    Bri is one of my closest coworkers. If you ask Bri about when we first started working together, she will tell about how she would come to the bar to complain about guests, employees, managers, etc. And I would always respond with positivity. She hated it. Misery loves company, so when she came to complain, she wanted me to complain with her. I never did. But then she will tell you how she decided to start listening to what I was saying instead of immediately dismissing it. And you know what she says about it, she says its changed her life. Nobody wants to be unhappy (and if you do, I’m sorry). Bri eventually started listening to my positive advice, and she started applying it to not only her work but to her daily life as well. One thing that I have learned is that you can’t force anyone to change. But if you can become someone they can learn from, then be that person. Who knows, maybe one day your positive words will get through and make a difference in someone else’s life.

  5. Take a Deep Breath

    Thoughts. They interest me. They intrigue me. And I always want to know more about them. We are not our thoughts, and our thoughts shouldn’t dictate our lives. Often they do. But why? When you are upset about something that has happened, or what you think may happened, what is making you upset? Your thoughts perhaps? When you’re upset about the section or sidework that you were assigned, what is keeping you upset? Most likely the thoughts in your head. I know, they can be loud and distracting at times. That is why its important to take a moment, take a deep breath in, and let it go. Let go whatever is bothering you. Feel your heart beat, feel the deep breath in your lungs. Feel your body and let the negative thoughts drift away. Sometimes one big breath can make a world of a difference. Next time something is bothering you, just take that deep breath and relax. It is going to be okay. You’re breathing, you’re alive. What could be better than that?


What do you do to stay calm and relaxed at work? As we all know, work, home, life can be stressful. Oh trust me, I know, life can be fucking hard. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be.

Do you want to be happy? Then be.


Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.


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