I know what you’re thinking, what will that do for me? How could smiling at someone strange possibly benefit me? Well in my experience only good things have come from smiling.
I was told in High School that when I would walk through the halls I looked snobby, but that’s not the case at all, I was shy so I looked down and walked fast. I bet I missed a lot! As I got older and a lot more comfortable in my skin I started looking up and liked what I saw a lot better.
It is amazing the kind of reactions you get from people when you randomly smile at them. The best reactions are from children they almost always smile back and wave or even point. Sometimes they tuck in behind their parent and then it becomes a sort of little peekaboo game. Now with adults it varies a bit more, most of people politely smile back, some look away nervously or looked confused, occasionally you get a hi and in rare cases you might even get a conversation or make a new friend. When you think about it aren’t all friends’ strangers at first?
I have had a couple of those rare case conversations and I loved them all. I worked as a server/bartender when I lived in Toronto and as a result took a lot of cabs. One particular cab driver quickly became my all-time favourite. The first time we met he seemed very nice but I had a terribly long night and just wanted to go home, I think he picked up on my energy because he remained quiet for most of the drive. The second time I was in a much better mood; I got in the cab and smiled. He recognized me and commented on the mood change. We started chatting and a thirty minute cab drive felt like five. I think he knew my schedule because out of all the cab drivers in Toronto, I got him a lot. We chatted about life and dreams. He told me about how he bought a small cottage out in the middle of nowhere and that when he saves enough money to retire he wants to live out there by himself and paint all day long. I still think about him sometimes, hoping that he finally made it to his dream cottage out in the woods painting his days away. I would never have been able to have that experience if I didn't smile that day.
Another neat encounter was at the grocery store. I was in the canned vegetable isle looking for canned tomatoes for my husband’s favourite spaghetti sauce. This elderly gentleman was standing beside me so I looked up and smiled, he smiled back and then looked in my cart. He asked if I was making a sauce and proceeded to tell me about his wife who had passed away and how they used to love making homemade sauce together. He said that he had the secret to making a great sauce and he would share it with me since I seemed like a nice girl. He told me to add soy sauce to the meat while it was cooking, not too much "Don't get overzealous with that soy sauce, just a splash is all ya need!". Ever since then that is exactly what I have done and I don't know if it made a difference, but I love it!
What about all the single people out there? If you’re skulking at the ground when you’re walking you are missing tons of opportunities. You could be walking past your dream guy/girl every day on your way to work. You could even have the same subway stop or eat at the same place for lunch every day. If you never look around, you may never know. So stand up tall, strut your stuff and smile! You can thank me later... :)
So in closing, show off your pearly whites to the world! Whether your grocery shopping, walking the dog or waiting in line, stop texting or staring at your feet and look around. There is a whole world around...I promise! You never know who or what you might see or what you’re missing. Open yourself up to the world and maybe it will do the same back for you.