Among my duties in my first job on Capitol Hill was giving tours of the U.S. Capitol for constituents visiting Washington D.C. With each new group I gained a greater appreciation for what an incredible opportunity it was to report to work in such an iconic place. Through their eyes I was able to see the hallways, staircases, and passageways with reverence rather than the indifference that may otherwise have taken over after traversing them day in and day out year after year.
Occasionally a particularly gracious tour-taker would send a note of thanks afterward. When I received my first such letter, my boss told me to keep it for my "sunshine file." At the time I didn't know what he was talking about. It was my first introduction to the concept, but it has become a regular practice in the years since.
What started as a manila file folder in my office drawer now takes the form of a small box in my closet and an electronic file on my computer. In these vaults, I have stored thank you notes, positive performance reviews, kind words from students and readers, and encouragement from mentors and friends. On days I find myself stinging from a setback or frustrated by a lack of tangible progress, I can revisit the "sunshine file" for a lift of spirit.
If we are not careful, it is easy to fixate on what is going wrong or where we are falling short. Sometimes all we need is a simple reminder of how we have helped/are helping others to turn our day around. Whether you keep small encouragements in a physical location or treasure them in your heart, revisit them in challenging moments and be encouraged. Treat yourself to a dose of sunshine - and allow yourself to beam brighter.