Warning: Touchy-feely blog post ahead. You have been warned.
At the risk of sounding like a soft-headed lefty, I thought that I might pass along an observance I have been building recently. I have often felt that human beings are inherently bad, or stupid, or even simply selfish. I believe that this is true. But I also believe that these same humans are inherently good, and smart, and selfless. Maybe it just depends on what time of day you catch a person, or what kind of night he had the day before. Maybe she’s hungry, or he just had a great cup of coffee. Whatever it is, I have discovered that I feel a certain… responsibility to do what I can to affect the people with whom I come into contact for the better.
Now obviously, there is only so much a random encounter can do, and I’m not talking about following someone home from the grocery store to paint their fence or give their dog a bath, but smaller, easier ways to influence people’s moods and give them a happier day, even if it’s just a by the tiniest bit.
When I’m out and about, and someone I don’t even know takes the effort to say “hi,” I feel better. If three people do it, I’m on top of the world. I’ll be thinking about it all day. And it doesn’t take much, just a smile, maybe a nod. Acknowledgment. Positivity. Validation. In an effortless way, it says, “I see you. You’re just as good as anyone else here. You’re not alone.”
Now I’m not suggesting that running around saying “howdy” to everyone you see is going to end the world’s violence or solve any major political or economic crises… but does it really have to do that to be worthwhile? Wouldn’t it be enough to think you might have brightened someone’s life just a bit? Some stranger who’s now going to think about how three people at the lifted him out of his funk and now he’s going to be inexplicably nice to the next person he comes across?
As an experiment, try to notice when someone you don’t know is good to you. It doesn’t have to be much, just a little nicer than they needed to be. Think about how it makes you feel and consider, wouldn’t you like to be like that guy?