A couple of years ago, at a work’s conference, I was lucky enough to hear from a guest speaker who told the story of how he had been contemplating suicide and how a complete stranger, seeing he was in trouble, had taken the time to stop and talk to him, to find out what was going on and help him get help.
It was an amazingly powerful story but one thing in particular stuck with me. It was when he said that, as he went out on what he thought would be his last day, he had made himself a deal – if one person smiled at him, just one, he wouldn’t kill himself. For people who are feeling sad or lonely, he said, one smile can make all the difference.
I took this to heart and, ever since, have been grinning like a crazy woman. It’s not like I think I am going around saving lives, but I am hoping that, just with a little effort, I can spread a little love, joy, and friendship, and that, if someone is feeling down, I can help lift their mood and make their day a little better.
During all this smiling, what I have noticed though, is how few people actually smile back, which I find sad. I am not sure if they are shocked by a random stranger beaming at that and so don’t know how to respond, don’t even notice that random stranger because they are caught up in their own thoughts, or just really don’t want to smile back period but whatever the reason, I wish they would.
Interestingly, I have noticed that when the sun is shining I get more smiles than when it’s not and that the school run, which I do twice a day – walking 10 minutes to school and 10 minutes back – is especially smile free. I have been doing this run for three years now and cannot get over how few people smile as we pass each other or stand at the school gates. The kids, I notice, smile pretty much all the time, grinning ear to ear when they see someone they know.
That is how we should all be, I think, big grinning machines, smiling when we pass strangers and meet people we know. I know when I am on the receiving end of a smile, it makes all the difference, especially if there is a “hi”, “hello”, or “good morning” attached to it. It lifts my spirits and my steps get lighter. My smile is even broader for the next person I meet and I feel part of the human race in a way I don’t when my head is down and I’m barrelling ahead.
Smiling is brilliant – not just for making you happy. It can make you more successful, live longer, feel better. Don’t believe me – hopefully this Ted talk can explain better than I can…
So, this is my plea, when you are out today – going about whatever you are doing – raise your head and raise a smile. If the person you smile at doesn’t smile back, don’t give up. Because, one day, one smile, could make a person’s day.
What do you think? Am I making any sense? Or are you already part of the smiling army?
Images courtesy of pixabay.