In the most trying of times, kindness goes a long way


Has a smile or friendly greeting ever changed your life?

I’m willing to bet some casual expression of kindness has, even if nothing memorable springs to mind.

A text from a friend… a “good morning” from someone while out running errands… a wave from a neighbor while you’re in the yard. Something small. Just a gesture that meant something to you.

I admit that life every so often twists me into knots where I feel better not speaking or interacting with anyone. Moments where I just want to spend some time on my own. But that’s not always the case.

In general, I try to stay upbeat about things… I try to make eye contact with people and say hello, and even do small things like holding open a door for someone I otherwise had never met.

For most of my life I did these things just because. And by that, I mean not for any particular reason I could think of or support. I just did them. Seemed like pleasantries and courtesies were more appropriate that indifferent silence and ignoring others.

Over time however, thinking of a few of these moments has me feeling a bit differently about them.

A part of it is simply that it is a sign of respect and an offering of recognition. Without dipping my toes too deeply into this pool, it’s a way of extending my best to another, showing an appreciation that I understand they are in some way a part of my world while trying to make that world a slightly better place.

A larger part though is that I am finding such exchanges can truly be life altering, in ways both small and large.

Several times, I have encountered references to studies about smiling while talking on the phone. The inference is that the physical action on your part does influence your voice. Succinctly put, a person can hear you smile. And I think this thought extends into a much larger concept…

I believe that even the smallest of efforts from any of us can trigger ripples in the water. And even though we might not actually see something happening, that doesn’t mean nothing is happening.

Let’s try an experiment…

Smile… just a little bit more.

Say hello… connect with one or two or five people every day you might normally have just walked past without a word.

Put a penny or two from your change into the little holder next to the register… and don’t keep track of it in your head.

In short… try to put some good will into the community.

I’m not asking you to go overboard. This isn’t some pom-poms in the air pep squad moment. There is no plea for paying it forward. (Although, cheers for giving a little extra, supporting the good in people, and sharing with others when you can.)

What I am looking for is a bit of an adjustment in your perspective… the way you view things… the approach you offer to the little things.

There’s a very good chance you will never fully realize how much your words and deeds can mean to another person. Still… after a few days, I’d be surprised if you don’t feel a bit better, dare I say even happier, just for the attempt.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at