March 10, 2012

Want to Change the World in Five Seconds? Smile!

 I always smile at strangers.

I make a point of making eye contact and a genuine smile—none of that fake “lips only” stuff. So one morning, I smiled at this older gentleman in the grocery store and he stopped. He looked at me and said,

“You look just like my wife did when I met her. She died last year and I miss her every single day.”

And he started to cry! So I put my arms around him and gave him a big hug and just stayed there for a minute. It made me get choked up too. And we talked for a few minutes before we continued on with our days. I don’t know what it did for the rest of his day—but it changed mine. It woke me up a little more than usual. It stayed with me. It stayed with me for days that that split second decision to make eye contact with this man and smile at him could have such a dramatic impact.

We get so busy in our own little bubbles. We walk around texting. We worry so much about our own insecurities that we don’t reach out to others. We insulate ourselves against strangers—people even tell their kids:

“Don’t talk to strangers!”

But the truth is, we aren’t strangers at all: we are a 7 billion person family that has forgotten how to connect with each other. We have forgotten that the littlest gesture can make a huge difference in someone’s day. We have forgotten to look at each other. We have forgotten how to be kind—we seem to think it’s too difficult or costs us something we can’t take the time to give.

Kindness is free.

It is also the best investment you will ever make. A five second genuine smile can have exponential affects on the world.

{Many thanks to Robert Sturman for suggesting this photo for with my story. “I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.”}

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