If you’re from one of the faster-paced parts of the U.S., New York for instance, the last thing you’re going to do is take time out of your busy day to wave at passersby, let alone stop and exchange pleasantries about the weather.
But in some parts of America — the South or the Midwest, for instance — the friendliness is contagious, and perfect strangers will engage you with a tip of the hat and warm “Good morning!” In those parts of the world, they know that swimmers are probably waving, not drowning.
Cyclist. Motorist. Both people. Both going places. But at some point we made up a story about how different we all are. It’s time we restore some common courtesy to life’s highway. We suggest applying something simple and universal—a wave. See if it doesn’t make your day flow a little smoother. Roll nice y’all.
A waving cyclist in Vietnam obviously respects large motor vehicles. (Photo: Robert S. Donovan/flickr)
In smiling at strangers, I acknowledge their humanity, and in doing that, in reminding myself of it, I promote peace. How? By bringing joy to others that's far out of proportion to the investment required.
Sure, he writes, we get preoccupied with our own issues, we don’t feel we have time to stop and chat (something that a wave can solicit), and we offer folks false smiles they can tell right away aren’t genuine. But go the extra mile, make it real, and you’ll get more back than you put in.
Waving to strangers in Madagascar. (Photo: IAmNotUnique/flickr)
Smiling is good for you, says a recent college study. A bunch of students were asked to imitate someone who was fake-smiling (with just the lips) and another group copied a genuine smile (lips, eyes, facial muscles — a so-called "Duchenne" smile). The heart rates of the real smilers went down faster.
I was reminded of all this by a brief film we saw in church last week. It’s a Protestant church and a Buddhist video, but the principles are universal. A young man, walking down the street, stops to give money to a poor woman and her daughter, is kind to a dog, helps an old woman wheel her pushcart across the street and brings bananas to a shut-in. Oh, and he waters a plant, too.
By the end of the video, the dog is bringing the guy his lunch, the beggar’s daughter is in school, the old lady with the pushcart is smiling and waving, there’s a party in the shut-in’s apartment, and even the plant is thriving. The message: A little kindness goes a long way. On Youtube, more than five million people have watched this video: