In an incredible, digitally connected world, on a physical level we are becoming more and more disconnected. People, in a time poor state of mind; bustle here and there, with eyes downcast, avoiding eye contact. Most often, connected to a mobile device with ear buds in. The device maybe either on or off, but the very sight of a headset screams, I’m not listening and I’m busy!
Acutely aware of this state of “disconnection”, I attempt throughout my day, everyday, to engage. Whether it be, a simple smile to someone passing in the street, a kindness to a stranger in a checkout line or even an enquiry at the other end of my phone. I realise I am only one, but I strive to make a small difference and set an example for those around me.
My youngest daughter set a challenge a couple of weekends ago. On a family bike ride, she decided to greet every single passer-byer with a cheery “good morning” and tally their reactions. A mild, sunny morning, it was a perfect opportunity to test her demonstration, of simply ‘connecting’.
Riding behind her, I watched her positive enthusiasm as she targeted her eye contact, smiled and chirped, ‘good morning’. Her authenticity and her kindness made my heart swell. Some passers sashayed out of the way and looked at her oddly, as if she’d asked them how much tax they had paid this year! Others refused to lift their eyes from the pathway and quickened their step. A few gazed straight ahead, flatly ignoring her sweet gesture. And then a few kind strangers connected. They replied with their own ‘good morning’ and some took the time to say ‘what a beautiful morning for a bike ride’. The smile on her face and the smiles on the recipient’s face, during those moments of positive connection, was magic. It was a fleeting moment of mindfulness.
28 “good mornings” were bestowed with a humble 9 replies. My daughter said at times she felt awkward, but not disheartened, she declared that 28 people had felt her kindness and 9 people chose to return the gift. She hoped those people in turn would share the gesture. Random acts of kindness like this do spread. Happiness, as my daughters remind me constantly, doesn’t come from the world around us – it comes from deep within us. Give it a go! Unplug and connect.