I have been consciously smiling at or with servers in restaurants, store clerks and cashiers, ticket takers, etc. for many years. I think what they do makes my life easier and it’s my way of saying thank you or I appreciate you; I notice you. These service people are always there for us and these jobs don’t come with high wages or lots of perks. Does it matter to them that I greet them with a smile, acknowledge their presence or ask them about their day? I actually do care how they are doing and selfishly, it makes me feel better too. They say that it takes more effort to frown than to smile, so I am also being efficient!!!!
A few months ago I realized that I did not apply this same graciousness to the people I see on my walks. I have been walking in my new neighborhood almost every morning for over a year and see lots of the same people every day, just varying by the time of day and the path I take. For many months I did “the walkers nod”, or said hello but nothing more. I was too wrapped up in my own thoughts or whatever was broadcasting from my air pods until one day last year, I tripped and fell hard. I was OK other than a broken wrist, which took me off the trails for a few weeks. When I was back at it, I was so much more aware of everything around me, including the broken concrete that led to my tripping but most importantly my fellow walkers. I really began to notice each person and wondered about them. What was their story?, What did they do? Were they married with children? What hobbies did they have… and on and on.
Some of the people I passed seemed bored or lonely while some did not look well. Others were preoccupied as I once was, so I unintentionally added a smile to my walker’s nod and even exchanged a pleasantry like ‘good morning’ or ‘have a nice day’ and gradually some of these people would return the smile or greeting. I would smile more and more until I would look forward to seeing who I might meet on my walk and if I could somehow brighten their day with a smile or a greeting. Then I asked myself why do I think I can brighten their day with my smile and few words and I realized because it brightened my own day !!!!.
Women are often criticized for not smiling enough or not being pleasant enough, but I am not talking about that silliness, this smile is gender neutral.
It’s really the little things in life that can make such a difference in all of our lives and a smile is so simple if it comes naturally.