Some years ago, at about this time of year, my wife and I went for dinner on a ‘date night’ and ended up having to wait for a table. A young fella, still in his dirt-smeared, bright orange work gear, was there on his own and invited us to sit with him, rather than wait.

Starving, we gratefully accepted, and thus began an evening of beautiful teachings and messages.

1) He was there because he was due to have dinner with his kids and had been really looking forward to seeing them, but his ex changed her mind at the last minute.
– Be thankful for the family, friends and love you have access to all the time.

2) His brother is gay. The family found out after said sibling had an affair with a man while married to a woman and living in another country, where homosexuality isn’t as accepted as here. He was badly beaten (“broken”, our dining companion said) and escaped back to England.
– However pissed off you feel about your lot, remember how much freedom you have and stop taking that for granted.

3) He’s in manual labour, works hard and really loves his work – even when it means getting up in the small hours in winter.
– Be thankful. And if you don’t like your job, stop moaning and find – or create – another one.

4) When he first began his work, years ago, he was at the bottom of the pile and saw someone else doing a job on the site he aspired to. So, he set his sights on it, worked hard and trained until he was one of the best, had a job he really enjoyed and was able to command a better salary.
– Don’t expect everything on a platter. Work hard. Challenge yourself. Decide where you want to get to and start walking!

5) He used to run his own business and got himself into a bit of a mess with the tax man. Instead of looking for handouts, he found a good accountant, worked out a payment plan with him and grafted to pay off everything he owed – both to HMRC and the accountant. He’s still self-employed, but learned big lessons AND is with the same accountant who helped so much when he was in a hole.
– If you make a mess, it’s YOUR mess, so stop moaning and waiting for a miracle, be thankful for the teachings and work through it. And… if you find someone willing to do their all to help you through a difficult time, stick with them!

6) He carries a real attitude of gratitude. Some of us here might sniff at the day rate he talked about for his work, but he feels well paid, enjoys his job and loves and supports his kids. So many of us could learn from that.
– Be thankful.

7) He has an allotment that was gifted to him for a few years after helping some people out with theirs. He takes his kids there at weekends and they’re all learning to tend land and grow things together.
– Remember the importance of all the land provides for us. Food doesn’t grow in a supermarket. And there’s more to life than video games for kids.

8) He asked if I was happy. “Yes”, I replied. “You’re rich then” he said.
– And it really is that simple. Having a rich life really has very little to do with property and bank balances.

9) Asha mentioned that she was dieting. “Why?” he asked. “Because I want to lose some weight,” she replied. “Yes,” he said, “but why? I don’t understand it. Why are so many people trying to change the way they look when there’s nothing wrong with them?”
– Why do we judge ourselves so harshly and whose standards are we trying to live by? Maybe we all need to learn to love ourselves more and realise how beautiful we are without all the dieting and Botox and implants.

Just before he left, he held both of our hands and thanked us for spending part of our evening with him. His last words before parting? “Remember… if you lose your happiness, you lose everything.”

The final lesson of the evening came when we paid our bill and mentioned to the restaurant manager how lovely it was of him to share his table with us. She replied something along the lines of “well, it was good of you to sit with him as well. He’s quite individual and not many people would want to sit with him.”

– Don’t judge a book by its cover. Beautiful teachings are sometimes delivered in most unexpected ways. In fact, let’s try not to judge at all!

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