I’m not one to stand on a soap box and preach about inequality or social injustice to the entire world (though I will defend my beliefs to friends and the like), but one thing I am adamant about is that we need more smiles in the world.
Smiles and kindness.
We go through our days wrapped in a bubble of self-absorption, only concerned with our immediate affairs. “I need to pick up potatoes from the grocery store.” “There’s traffic on the highway, I should leave work 10 minutes early.” We never stop and look at the people around us, and think about how we impact their lives, even briefly. The cashier at the grocery store, the toll worker taking our change.
Everyone has ideas for how to make the world a better place, and it’s all done on a grand scheme – make everyone go to church, remove religion from government and schools, add purple goats to every street corner, but people never think about what they can do to make the world better, even in a small way.
I’m not talking about recycling, or turning off the lights. I’m talking about our interactions with other human beings. We’re polite and friendly to our peers, colleagues, family; people who we consider important or crucial in our lives, for whatever reason, but we give no thought to those we interact with daily, people who have no names, or whose faces blur together after a while.
What I’m trying to say is smile. Smile at the cashier when you finish checking out, be pleasant to the waitress who takes your order. Say “please” and “thank you” to the busboy at the hotel. This isn’t something profound, or based in a religious book – it’s common courtesy that has gone the way of the dodo.
So many problems can be avoided if we are simply civil to each other, no matter what our political persuasion is, or our religious beliefs or the color of our skin. That can all be put aside for a few minutes just to smile.
I’m a firm believer that if you smile at someone, you pass that smile along. A smile costs you nothing, but it could brighten someone’s day. If I pick up an order at a restaurant, it’s amazing what a simple quick of the mouth will do to someone’s mood and attitude. People don’t expect it in this day and age, and it saddens me.
It might be a bit naive, or a bit outdated, but I believe in starting small.
So next time you go to the store, instead of texting a friend, smile at the cashier, so they can pass that smile to their next customer, who can, in turn, pass it onto someone else. And who knows? Maybe that smile might come back to you when you need it one day.