There’s a supermarket I frequent in Los Angeles, I typically go in two to three times a week, and most times I walk in there is a security guard I say hello to as I pick up my basket. I always make sure to start my shopping with a hello to him and a smile, and as a result he has dubbed me “nice lady.” Now at some point I know I introduced myself to him but he has stuck with “nice lady” as my name when I walk in the store. It always makes smile. It makes me smile because before I stepped on this path he probably wouldn’t have called me that. Not that I would necessarily be mean to him, but I most likely would have walked right and never made eye contact with him, ignored him, lost in my own thoughts and pit of darkness. I walked around like that for a long time, more than half my life, and it makes me wonder about all the missed opportunities I had to connect with genuine, nice people, people I may have seen regularly, but I would not engage with. I’ve talked about this many times before, how a smile or a hello can possibly change someone’s day, how important kindness is, or just to acknowledge someone is there. We all want to feel like we matter, that we’re being seen and heard, that we are noticed, and it’s easy to forget that others do as well as we go about our busy days with our to-do lists and eyes glued to our phones.
I was out for lunch the other day and there was a sign at the counter that said “we will gladly help you once you finish your phone call.” It didn’t surprise me that this restaurant, a very busy LA lunch spot, felt the need to put up that sign, and it made me sad to think that the cashiers that work there had experienced so many people ignoring them while talking on their phone that they felt a sign was needed. I have to say, the day I was there, there wasn’t a single person in line talking on their phone. Perhaps, people got the hint, or perhaps it was just luck, but it takes very little effort to be kind, to look someone in the eye and say hello, maybe even throw in a smile, or a “how are you?” And I understand there are days when you just don’t feel like connecting with anyone, or reaching out, especially to someone you don’t know, but I can tell you, that’s exactly when you should be reaching out, because that act will get you out of your own head, and your funk, really quickly. When we do something nice for someone else, and stop thinking about ourselves, we get out of our own way, we shift the focus away from us and engage with those around us, and even when we may be reluctant to do so, we still receive the gift of the relief of self, and, you never know, you just might find yourself in an unexpected conversation with a stranger who makes you smile in return.
I didn’t write this blog today to toot my own horn, I wrote it because it’s a reminder to myself how far I’ve come, how far we can all go when we focus our attention out and pay attention to those around us, when we let your true light shine, even when it feels dim, and we share that with someone else. I now look forward to those random or chance encounters, and I look for opportunities to make someone smile, especially when I may be in environment that is busy, or stressful, or there is someone else being unpleasant, I love that challenge, and most of the time I can turn it around, which in turn, makes me smile. It reminds me of Dean Martin singing “When You’re Smiling,” the lyrics, “When you’re smilin’, when you’re smilin,’ the whole world smiles with you, when you’re laughin’, oh when you’re laughin’the sun comes shinin’ through.” Now the whole world doesn’t always smile back at us when we smile, but a lot of it will, and isn’t it better to leave a situation better than how you found it, rather than to be the cause of the problem? Keep smiling SLAYER!
SLAY OF THE DAY: Do you make a conscious effort to make contact with people when you are out in your day-to-day life? If yes, why? If not, why not? If you don’t, what do you think will happen if you start? How will this hurt you? How might this help you? How does it make you feel when someone smiles and acknowledges you? Do you see how reaching out to others during the course of your day can help you when you are having a day where you are struggling? I challenge you SLAYER to reach out, especially on days when you don’t feel like it, or you’re in your own head, smile, say hello, ask someone about their day, I guarantee you, you will feel better, and you never know, you may just turn someone else’s day around too. SLAY on!
S – self L – love A – appreciate Y – you