Here's one thing I notice: Life often likes to send us messages in a very organized way, kind of like a savvy teacher who will introduce us to the same lesson using different modalities, yet point out the thread between all of them.
A few days ago, a friend of mine sent me a photo of a brick wall. On it were painted the words: "Strangers who smile when you make eye contact with them are so important." I love that.
It reminds me of the look on my youngest son's face when he was about three years old, and his grandma had warned him to not talk with strangers. His little brow was scrunched up, and he seemed to wrestle with a big confusing question. When I asked what was going on, he looked at me and asked: "Mom, if I never talk to strangers, how am I ever going to make new friends?"
A couple of hours after the photo was sent to me, an email shows up from one of our Happyville residents (XXX).
"I went to New York recently for my niece's graduation from medical school. We extended the trip to do sightseeing and take in the local flavor. Our niece rented a flat for us in Brooklyn near where she had lived during school. We went to her favorite food places and local establishments as well as to the typical tourist destinations - naturally, all were within walking distance.
The first morning out and every day after, we passed many people on the streets, people looked serious and only made eye contact for a split second, if at all. I was all smiles because of the excitement of the trip, but also because I am generally cheerful anyway. I noticed that no one in our stand-out group of eight greeted nor acknowledged the people we passed. I asked my niece if it was unacceptable to greet people on the street. She said it would be considered abnormal behavior. I did not care for that very much, so I went ahead and smiled at people and said good morning or hello. Low and behold, EVERYONE whom I acknowledged softened, smiled back and returned my greeting. I don't know if anyone in my group noticed, but it was like my little joyful secret that enhanced my trip considerably.
If I hadn't been exposed to Happyville, I probably would have kept my gaze down and silently passed all the locals on my trip like everyone else. I would have missed out on spreading kindness, and I certainly would have missed out on bridging the gap between 'us' and 'them.' A smile and a kind word work magic. Thank you for the inspiration to step out and reach out. I thought I was giving, but I got way more back in return."
Same message, same day, from two people who don't know each other. My guess is that was something I needed to pay attention to, that day.
Today, I invite you to playfully notice the recurring messages coming your way.
From words to a song, to words on paper, to words from strangers... what are you ready to energize and deepen, right now? What stands out for you? And then: who do you want to share it with?
Of course, I also invite all of us to smile at strangers.
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