The best way to cheer yourself up, is to try to cheer somebody else up. – Mark Twain

Today we had a lunch at work to celebrate all on campus who volunteered for last weekend’s Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement Exercises. For a school that doesn’t do awards for faculty and staff, it was really nice to have an event to appreciate all that helped. And when I say all, I mean all- ushers and marshals for commencement alone accounted for nearly 100 volunteers, and many others played a significant part in making sure baccalaureate went off without a hitch. I really enjoyed getting to have lunch with colleagues I don’t see too often, and am still managing to meet new people with each passing gathering, even being as small of an institution as we are.

As I was finishing up, one of our academic advisors who gave out diplomas onstage approached me, and asked “I have a question and want to see if my memory serves. Was it you who took the ribbon and the extra sheet off the diplomas you brought up?”

At this point, I was sure I was in trouble. I nodded and said, “Yes, I did…”

Carolyn beamed. “Thank you so much for making it easy!”

I paused for a moment, then asked, “Was I really the only one who did that?”

She replied, “Yes, you were!”

Of forty marshals given a stack of diplomas for the graduates he or she was ushering that also bore a list of included folders and bound with ribbon, one person opted to make it easy for the people handing out degrees onstage. Me.

I don’t say that to be pompous or even to denigrate those who also served in a marshaling capacity; I say it because it shocked me, but made someone else’s day.

A friend of mine who was sitting with me when Carolyn came over mentioned, “They didn’t tell us to.”

She’s right. And I do remember sitting there as the commencement speech was ending and conferral of degrees was beginning, thinking “What do I do with these? Do I unwrap them? Am I supposed to leave them?” Ultimately, the last question I asked before I acted was, “Will this make their job easier?” With names being read with near-auctioneer speed, and the temperature rising in the tent, I made the decision that would make Carolyn’s life easier. Doing what you’re told leads to ordinary results; taking the leap and doing what’s right without being told, makes life extraordinary. I’m glad I did what was extraordinary for that scenario- I was when I did it, and am astounded that it was such a memorable move.

Do you ask that question as you go about your day, making decisions and determining your course of action- “what will make someone’s day?” I know I will do so more from now on- even if I never know who it affects, it’s always nice to do. Give it a try, see how it feels!

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