In yoga, before practice starts, the instructor may suggest that you set an intention: dig deeper, respect your body, or don’t compete with your neighbor… I’m writing another book, My Intentional Year, where I chronicle a year of setting a daily intention.
I decided that on one particular day, I would smile at every person I came across. Now, I didn’t tackle anyone who didn’t (or wouldn’t) meet my eye and I promise you I didn’t look like a psychopath grinning ear to ear Jack Nicholson style a la The Shinning. It was very natural, if someone looked my way, they would be met with a toothless smile.
I didn’t set expectations, as I didn’t know what to expect. I was just trying something new. My findings:
- Men met my eye more frequently than women
- If he met my eye, the majority of them smiled back
- In the few times women did meet my eye, maybe 40% of them smiled back
- Some people actually waved at me
- Older people smiled 80% of the time
- Children smiled 100% of the time
- It made my day better whether or not there was a return smile
Now, perhaps this is not a scientific study based on the homogenous nature of this group out here in Chicago’s Northern ‘burbs, but it’s what I experienced.
An interesting encounter: I made a necessary trip to the library. A woman and inquisitive little boy made a rather slow trek inside. The little boy asked about the mesh on the ground. The mother explained that it was there to protect the grass from birds…as I approached (walking way faster than they were) the mother turned and saw me approaching and she began to stammer (despite my beautiful smile!). She continued, “so that the uhm birds… that they don’t eat ummm…”
As I passed them, I smiled brightly and said, “Seeds.” And continued to the entrance.
“Right! The seeds.” She smiled, and chuckled nervously.
Regardless, this encounter didn’t mar my experience and I continued to smile at everyone I passed. My hope is that my intention brightened everyone’s day (whether they returned my smile or not) as my day and spirit was lightened.