Keep Your Eyes On The Road

Today, on the 4th day of my smile campaign, I went to the grocery store to pass out smiles to my fellow shoppers.  I found myself fighting an uphill battle as everyone seemed quite determined to not make eye contact with any other person.  Was I hurt by this?  Of course not.  I make the decision whether to feel bad or not so I choose to not feel bad.  Besides, this is the precise pattern we have moved ourselves to as a society that inspired to this campaign.  It is simple and safe to only look at, talk to, relax around people we have known and trusted for many years.  However, this keeps us from the potential of finding new friends or aquaintances on a large scale.  On a smaller scale we are blocking out EVERYTHING.  Maybe we are guarding ourselves from some negative things in the world but we are avoiding a lot of positive items as well.  I spend every day here talking about the tremendous happiness I get from possibly or actually lending a positive emotion to another person that I don’t know.  I am hoping people will read this and follow my lead to share in that experience.  At the same time, though, think about the other side.  How does it make you feel when someone smiles at you.  Is it a warm feeling?  Does it release a little tension from your body and your life?  Do you feel a little more patient, forgiving, etc. with others you meet after that smile?  Now you can see why I enjoy giving that gift.  There is no price and no one selling that feeling but you can give it for free.  As I walked across the parking lot toward the store I passed an older gentleman ending his work shift at the grocery store.  He did not smile back but he did say hello so he got some of that feeling anyway.  As the title of today’s post indicates, most every effort I made in the store was not even acknowledged.  I don’t fault anyone for not returning my smile in any case but especially when they don’t even look at me to know I am smiling toward them.  I do hope, though, that some part of them realized a kindness was extended to them.  After passing a fairly significant number of people with eyes on the road I took my purchases to the cash register.  When I greeted the cashier with a friendly smile she smiled back to me.  In that smile I could feel that release of tension I was talking about earlier.  I could imagine that she had had a steady stream of people who wanted nothing from her but quick service and silence.  Finally, a fellow human wanted to engage her and I could feel the relief from her.  As we bantered a little, both with genuine smiles, I got the impression that she felt as if she had received a small break from the tense atmosphere she existed in for most other customers.  Hopefully, it helped her day to flow just a little easier.  I know I enjoyed it and it was even worth getting home to realize I’d managed to walk out with something I’d purchased.  The smile was worth the buck and a half anyway.  As I was walking to the car I was still smiling and looked over to see an older lady across the aisle studying my happy expression.  I turned my smile to her and held it there for several seconds before she realized I was looking at her and smiled in return.  Today I only inspired 2 actual smiles but received another great reminder of the need for my campaign.  The total smiles is now 12 leaving a scant 999,988 to go!  We’re picking up steam now.
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