Two identical experiences… yet completely different. Last Thursday we went to the opening of a new high end chain restaurant in our neighbourhood. It was a gorgeous evening and their patio was beautiful. The restaurant had brought in some top servers from out of town to make sure the first few weeks went well. By any objective measure, the service was amazing, the food was excellent and the atmosphere was energetic.
Its turns out, we found out later that two other couples we knew were also there that night. One – a very happy and positive couple – raved about the experience. The other couple – more cynical and generally unhappy – had nothing but complaints.
Issue 1: there were extra servers on duty for opening and always an experienced server paired with a new one. Couple 1 thought this showed a great commitment to making sure everyone was well taken care of; couple 2 thought it was confusing, not knowing exactly who their server was. Issue 2: the food was not typical of a highish end chain restaurant. It was excellent but definitely ‘different’. Is this unfamiliarity good or bad?
What I found interesting is that, knowing each of these couples quite well, I could have predicted each would experience their visit to the restaurant exactly as they did. Because this first couple goes into every experience their life expecting to enjoy it – they set themselves up for happiness. The other couple is really cynical – they expected to be disappointed and, so, of course they were.
So, how much of this natural predispositions affects the experiences we have in life? Its like a self fulfilling prophecy – if we start with an expectation of happiness we will often get it. Start from the opposite perspective and you don’t.
So.. start happy.