A long time ago a friend of mine told me that psychologists are just overpaid bartenders who don’t serve you drinks. While that’s an oversimplification of both professions, if you stop and think about it there’s some truth to the outlook. A great many people with problems talk to their bartender… and the more they drink the looser their tongue gets so their honesty gets more pure. I’d be willing to bet that many bartenders hear more problems from people than any average psychologist.
Keeping that in mind I was still surprised to hear some of the things people told me when I was managing a cigar lounge. The lounge, of course, had a full service bar, and a core group of patrons became close friends. When friends have problems they talk to each other. When one friend is facing big challenges and trying to manage the stress, it’s good for him (or her) to have friends to lean on. In this case, “lean on” means people of experience he can talk to and who might be able to offer some advice that’s worth considering.
Not that long ago, while I was working at the cigar lounge, a friend of mine was going through some life challenges. He is a genuinely good guy and was carrying far more weight for a bad situation than I felt he should. Much of the challenge wasn’t created by his actions and he was taking responsibility for things he had no control over; not when things fell apart and not after the fact. But he’s that kind of guy: he wants to make everything right for everybody and if he can’t he feels the weight of… not failure, but not completion as he sees a friend’s support to be.
That, combined with everything else that was going on – and it was near all encompassing: emotional, professional, financial – was overwhelming him and he was honest about the fact that on some days he just didn’t feel like he could go on. It was during one of my conversations with him that I shared something I had recently read. I’d love to take credit for it, but it’s not mine originally; it’s far more wise than I consider myself to be.
Remember, when you’re having what seems like the worst day of your life, your survival rate for bad days so far is 100%.
What’s the mean? It means that every time you’ve ever had a bad day in your life; every time you’ve ever wondered, “How am I going to handle this?” Every time you’ve doubted your ability to go on… you’ve done it. You’ve survived. You’ve overcome. You’ve grown and moved forward stronger than you first thought you were or could be.
That gentleman, a good friend of mine, later shared with me that for several weeks that thought was what pushed him, yet also gave him comfort. He told me that it was humorous while serious and totally empowering anytime he felt life was kicking his ass. He’d always weathered every storm before and come out the better for it. The thought was a reminder that this was just another challenge in a life full of them and he could overcome whatever came his way… just like he had before. He thanked me… and I damned near cried.
To be able to say something to someone, even if it’s just something you read somewhere (and can’t remember where), that empowers them or helps lift a burden from them… it’s humbling. To have someone tell you that because of you their days are better and they’re managing their challenges with less stress and more confidence.
Now I’m not going to say that conversation happened because we were in a cigar lounge or that the setting somehow contributed to the depth of the conversation. What I WILL say is that such a conversation couldn’t have been held in a “normal” bar. That reality is one of the reasons why I enjoy a cigar bar or cigar lounge far more than I ever did a regular bar. Friends can have conversations about more than cars, women (or men), parties, events, sports, etc. They can have serious conversations that aren’t just entertainment oriented but can truly add to the value and quality of life.
That’s why I hope to run into some of you in a cigar lounge. The experience is always enjoyable and adds a pleasant flavor to any day.