It reminds me of a story I heard about a wise clerk who worked at a convenience store in a small town out west.
One day, a stranger walked in, picked up some bread and milk, and made his way to the cash register.
“New to town?” the clerk asked.
“Yep. Just moved here with my family,” the stranger replied.
“Well, then let me be the first to welcome you,” the clerk offered, extending his hand.
“Thanks,” the stranger said as he shook it. “Say, what are the people like in this town?”
“Well … what were they like in the town you just left?” the clerk queried.
“Oh, they were fantastic,” the stranger replied. “Friendly, upbeat, and generous. We hated to leave.”
“I know what you mean,” the clerk nodded. “I think that’s pretty much what you’ll find here, too.”
A few days later, another stranger walked into the convenience store. Like the first, he picked up a few staples and headed to the cash register.
The same clerk asked, “New to town?”
“Yes,” the stranger mumbled. “Just arrived.”
Following the same track, the clerk smiled and extended his hand. “Let me be the first to welcome you!”
The stranger took his hand reluctantly, frowned, and quickly looked down. “So what are the people like in this town?”
“Well … what were they like in the town you lived in last?” the clerk queried.
“Not great,” he stammered. “They were cold, aloof, and selfish. We were glad to get out of there.” He looked up at the clerk.
“I know what you mean,” the clerk affirmed. “I’m afraid that’s probably what you’ll find here, too.”
If it’s true that we get what we expect, it’s worth noticing our expectations—and shifting them toward a more positive outcome.