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It’s funny how contagious stress and happiness are. It’s easy to get swept away by the inherent stress and noise in a city.

I recall after a 10-day meditation retreat returning to London, sitting on the tube and feeling overwhelmed by all the noise and stress around me (the circle line is so loud!) I felt noticeably more agitated after 5 minutes on the tube, and realized I lived in this environment every day, but had gotten so used to it that I no longer noticed the background noise.

On the flip side, I still recall this grey day in London, when my mood was completely “eh” — I was walking to work in Clerkenwell letting my thoughts grumble away. I looked up, and there was this elderly lady smiling. Then she smiled *at* me. It was one of those smiles that effusively emanated “I’m happy, the world is beautiful, have a nice day”.

Something about that smile, pierced through, and I felt happy. Then I laughed that I should happen upon such a wonderful gift, and felt filled with joy the rest of the day. Such a small thing… and yet my day was transformed… it still warms my heart when I think of that smile.

The beautiful thing is, when you focus on yourself, whoever you choose to become, that reaches out and touches so many people in ways you can’t imagine.

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