Mother Teresa once said:
Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.
That is a wonderful philosophy to have in life.
I find from my own personal experience, that it is possible to spread happiness to others through a smile, a kind word, lighthearted chit-chat, and random acts of kindness.
Even though I’ve been with my current employer for nearly four years, there are many people I don’t know in my building. I make it a point to talk to people when I wait at or in the elevator, in the health club, or walking through the lobby. I have multiple seconds each and every day to be nice to someone and leave them with a smile.
Not everyone responds of course, but I’ve learned to ignore the ones who don’t want to be sociable. Fortunately, there are few of them. Most people, even our contractors with limited understanding of English, will respond to conversation starters such as:
- Did you do anything fun this weekend?
- Where are you going for lunch?
- How are you today?
- What’s today’s workout going to be?
- Isn’t it hot out?
- I went this weekend to see / do _______ and it was really neat.
- You look very nice today. I like that dress / top / suit / tie on you.
- Do you have power? This was last week’s conversation starter for nearly everyone. A surprising number of people who I worked with had no power for most of the week.
Back in the days before EZE Pass, I went through a toll booth and handed my money to the collector. He turned to me with the biggest smile and in a booming voice said, “HOW YA’ DOING TODAY BEAUTIFUL?” He had all of about five seconds for something that I smiled about all day long.
My herb gardens have helped me make friends in the workplace. I’ve given away mint and basil to anyone who was interested. It’s a great conversation starter when I’m standing in the kitchen putting it into some cups. I’ve made friends with people I’d have not otherwise met if not for giving away mint. It’s an act of random kindness that people enjoy.
Telling people they look nice is always appreciated. Even top executives appreciate hearing they look sharp in their suits and ties. Few people have said this isn’t a new outfit. When they did, I shrugged and said it looks very nice today. I’ve lost the capacity to be embarrassed because I’d not noticed it before.
One of the best acts of random kindness was when I was buying groceries at Walmart late at night. The woman in front of me had removed things from her cart because she was short of cash. She wasn’t buying anything fancy, junky or odd; there wasn’t any cigarettes or beer. It was milk, bread, cheap ground beef, noodles, and things like that. Even with as much as she pared it back, she still came up $2 short.
She frantically went through her pile of groceries trying to figure out what to put back. I said no, wait, and I handed the $2 to the cashier. The woman started crying. I told I’d been in that situation myself, but that night I was not. I could afford it. She told me she’d pay it back, but I asked her to pay it forward to someone else as others had done for me.
The cashier had been pretty nasty up until then. She was tired and out of patience with the woman in front of me. She was utterly amazed that a stranger would pay the shortfall for someone she didn’t know. I gave up explaining that it was only $2 and I could afford it. I accepted her improved attitude and politeness so I could get done and get home.
The next time you’re in public, smile at people. Ask them how their day is going. Then watch their face light up and the smile they walk away with.
Here’s a picture of someone that frequently makes me smile. He’s getting ready to water the garden here as I was leaving for work a few weeks ago. Isn’t he a good boy?
Two blogs I follow had similar entries the day after I posted this, each with a slightly different angle.
My co-worker, Chris Jones, wrote about starting a conversation with someone you don’t know. The bloggers, Marc & Angel, wrote about 140 Ways to Change The World, many of which are great ideas for Act of Random Kindness.
Word for tomorrow – BLOGGER’S CHOICE. If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.
I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at www.livingtheseasons.com or write me at dogear6 [at] gmail [dot] com.