Tuesday, July 31, 2007

When a Smile is More Than a Smile

Was standing in line at the grocery store today. Short trip, picking up a few forgotten items. Was staring off into space when the lady in the next line over motions for me to go ahead of her. It's OK, I said, but she insisted.

It was a very touching act, the feeling of which words cannot adequately convey.

Touching, because a complete stranger noticed and cared enough to reach out. Inspiring, because that single, simple act, became more than that the instant it was offered. It brightened my day. I left the store with a smile. Smiled at the three random strangers passed along the way to the car, two of whom smiled back. It created instant goodwill amongst complete strangers that likely grew stronger with time.

What a beautiful lesson. We often get lost in thought as we carry out mundane activities. While we're doing one thing, we're thinking about something else - reminiscing about past events, worrying about the future, trying to remember all the things on the to-do list.

We forget to stop and truly live in the present.

We also forget that the way we CHOOSE to interact with those around us has a tremendous impact than we often underestimate.

That in passing a stranger on the street, a furrowed brow because of other worries, can be misinterpreted as distance. Dislike. But the same situation, done with a smile, though unexpected, contributes to the sense of community, and may lead the receiver to pass along the good feeling.

The act itself doesn't matter. It is often the simple, unassuming acts that don't seem to matter much - it didn't really matter if I got out of the grocery store a few minutes earlier - that are most priceless for the potentially endless spread of goodwill among those who receive and pass it along. And all we need to do these things, is to remember to be present.

I'm sure the kindness behind the grocery store lady's initial act continues to ripple this afternoon.

I know it has, for me.


“Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.”
-Mother Theresa

photo credit


Blogger Pieces of Mind said...

What an inspiring post.

There have been times when an unexpected smile or courtesy or friendly comment from a stranger has been the *only* nice interaction I've had all day.

It makes me a lot more conscious of the need to pay it forward. You never know when you might be someone else's angel.

11:50 AM  
Blogger TB said...

Thanks for the lovely reminder to be present and aware. I have to tell myself every day.

And thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment at Soul Gardening so I could follow you back here.

5:38 PM  
Blogger wandering visitor said...

'Tis true. The interaction really made me look at how I can contribute to the "feel-goodness" of society. I'm often wandering around without consciously thinking about smiling or remembering that I can brighten up someone else's day.

Hi TB - honored to have you stop by! I, too, have to remind myself constantly to do the same. It's a lesson that I've been taught time and time again, and unless I get a reminder ever so often, I find myself forgetting. Am such a slow learner! ;)

9:09 PM  
Blogger Moofie said...

That was beautiful, WV ... and so true. We have no idea what a simple act of kindness can do in another person's life.

I know that when I try to be thoughtful to strangers - whether in a store, or when driving ... it makes me feel a little selfish, because I think I get more out of it than they do.

Pieces of Mind said it well, though, about the need to "pay it forward." Did you see that movie, by the way?

9:06 AM  
Blogger wandering visitor said...

Hi Moofie!

i think both parties get a lot out of it - and it's so easy, and free!! :)

Wasn't aware that "pay it forward" was a movie, but now I'll have to see it - we seem to have similar tastes in movies! :) BTW, I just saw a good one. It's a foreign film, (Japanese, I think), so not sure if you like things like that, but it was a beautifully told story...

10:19 PM  

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