I love people-watching. And even if I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t be able to help it. I often catch myself observing those around me – be it in line at Costco, at a stoplight, or a packed nightclub. Stop and take a look for yourself. Human behavior is fascinating.
But sometimes fascinating isn’t enough. More often than not, I see folks walking around with their noses buried in their phones. Probably checking-in on Facebook, or Instagraming a picture of the lunch they just ate. (Hey, I’m guilty of it too — at least in my pre-baby days — so I’m not one to criticize). What I will say though is, these social media sites were designed to keep people connected, and “tapped” into one another’s lives, yet the irony is that they all severely take away from the basic human interaction that we’re supposed to have with one another. Example, the guy in line in front of me at Trader Joe’s barely picked up his head long enough to say a quick hello to the cashier that greeted him. Are we really that involved with what’s going on in our phones that we can’t even give another human providing us with a service the respect and time they deserve? Surely humans deserve more acknowledgement than a gadget.
So consumed with our own lives (and gadgets), it’s like we’re all walking around in individual, invisible bubbles. We pass one another on streets without a smile. We see someone needing help and we actually contemplate whether or not to stop because it could potentially make us late to wherever we have to be. (In case you’re scratching your head wondering what’s wrong with the above scenario, the right thing to do would be to stop and help). Whatever happened to kindness?
It’s sad to see that people tend to come together only when tragedy strikes. Like in the recent attacks in Paris: it shouldn’t take catastrophic events to bring people together. Sure, it might be idealistic (& naïve) of me to expect everyone to get along harmoniously. Perhaps one day — a girl can dream, can’t she? But I do hold out hope that we can all individually do more to make this world a kinder place to live in. The world can’t be changed in one day, but we should start somewhere. If everyone does just a little, small steps will turn into big strides. Like the pieces in a puzzle. If we all contributed to our immediate surroundings, the finished puzzle could be wonderful.
I’m not suggesting world changing acts of altruism (although, please feel free). It needn’t be time-consuming, or costly. It starts with something as easy (and affordable) as a smile. Lend a hand to the person you see juggling their groceries in the parking lot. Bake some goodies for your neighbors. Compliment the woman in front of you if you catch yourself quietly admiring her hair. Ask that elderly person if they need help across the street. Or, just share a smile. You’d be surprised how well people will respond. Usually first in surprise, then, when they smile back, you can tell that you’ve just made their day. And hopefully, they’ll continue on with their day ready to pass on that feel-good feeling to someone else.
A random act of kindness, no matter how big or small, will make someone’s day. What may seem trivial to you may feel monumental to the recipient. That feel-good feeling will leave a person feeling warm inside, and I guarantee, you’ll walk away feeling pretty darn good as well.
So what are you waiting for? Give it a try. Smile-check yourself the next time you’re out and flash a smile at the next stranger you see. Not everyone will smile back, but with the person that does, you’ll make eye contact, you’ll both smile, you’ll both acknowledge each other, and for that brief second, two human beings will connect, as humankind should.