Image credit: Smile! by Kenny Louie, on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.
The other day while I was out running some errands, I used the time in my car to ruminate over some of life’s speed bumps that had come my way. I began to feel annoyed that I was letting these thoughts ruin the day and made a plan to turn my mood around.
I decided to treat everyone I met with the feelings I wanted to cultivate in myself: kindness, patience and gratitude. What I didn’t know was that The Universe was going to send me a clear message that this was the perfect choice.
As I got out of the car and headed to my next destination, I walked through the parking lot behind two twenty-something women who just couldn’t find anything to be happy about. In the two minutes I was behind them, they crabbed at the adorable little boy who was with them, cussed at a person they felt was not driving safely (by my observation, the driver was perfectly acceptable) and then completely ignored an elderly man who was trying to exit the store and almost ploughed him over.
As I approached the door, I could see the old man staring at them gobsmacked as they passed by them. The look on his face said it all: “You’re in the prime of your life. You’re young and beautiful; why are you so hard and angry? Appreciate this time, it will pass before you know it.”
I held the door open for the old man. I was determined to make eye contact to let him know he was not invisible to the world, say hello and give him the best smile I could muster.
He looked at me, slid a glance at the grouchy young ladies and shook head. When he got close enough, he thanked me, touched my arm, looked me in the eye and said, “Keep smiling.”
I kept smiling all day.
Editor’s note: Feeling invisible is a common complaint of the elderly, and can add to feelings of depression, uselessness and loneliness. It’s a simple act to smile and say hello to someone. Try it while you’re out and about. It doesn’t take much effort and you never know what a big impact it can make.