YES! I am smiling at you.
This piece is about encouragement: To connect a little more. To be more aware. To spread kindness.
I’ll never forget it. I was in a locker room at a gym blow drying my hair and for many who know me — it is nothing unusual — I instinctively smile at people, say hi, etc. Sometimes people waive or say hi back, some look at me like I am crazy or a few don’t even take the moment to make any eye contact at all. This one particular woman, I don’t think I’d ever seen her before, actually stopped me mid-blow dry (and of course in that moment I thought she was going to say something nice). Rather with a stern voice she said to me, “Why are you smiling at me?”. Honestly, I was in disbelief — so not the question nor response I was anticipating in that moment! I think I stumbled and said something along the lines of — do I need a reason? Or…I am just nice ;-) I don’t really recall. She proceeded to tell me that she just did not understand why I was smiling at her.
After this odd moment and sadly, a few instances since then, I have had some time to reflect on these situations. When did it become so foreign to be genuinely nice?! In fact, even on the days when I am in a mood — it actually helps to smile at people, to say hi, to waive — whatever it is, the gesture can be so small, trust me — it makes a difference! And, simultaneously I start to feel so much better too. It’s a big mood booster.
I recently popped in to a corporate yoga studio for a class. I am recovering from a surgery that entails a lengthy rehab process and I wanted to arrive early to introduce myself and tell the yoga instructor about my injury — explaining something like if my butt is high in the air during childs pose — this is what’s up. This teacher did NOT even look up from her computer screen. She just sat there, typing — staring at her screen and nodding her head at me. I mean — really?!?! Now, if you walk into a place that is established on health, wellness, mind + body connection and they cannot even manage to make eye contact or connect in a kind, caring, interested way — we have some work to do!
Do you experience this? Do you do this? I am sure we all have our moments. It can be challenging. It is a daily practice. It involves a little bit of self-awareness and inner work, which some people run to the hills from.
My day is SO much more pleasant when I have those small, momentary interactions with other people. I feel like we are all in this together. It’s uniting.
I mean, if someone can outwardly be so uncomfortable with a smile, with a waive, with interaction — I cannot fathom how they treat themselves.
And, that’s just it — that is where the work should begin.
In the words of Pema Chodron: Be kinder to yourself. And then let your kindness flood the world.
I encourage you to start making eye contact, give someone a little waive, show off your pearly whites — pay attention to how it feels, how other people react and most importantly, how that smile lingers. Be careful or you may just notice a hop in your step! It’s so fun. We’ll get that ripple effect goin’ and pretty soon it will be so unusual for people NOT to smile back ;-)