Saturday, 22 June 2013

Smiling at people in public means of transport

Have you ever smiled at a stranger for no flirty reason? Have you ever smiled at a mother with a crying baby and said, that her baby is cute, just so that she doesn’t feel uncomfortable anymore? Have you ever smiled at  a person in a wheelchair because they looked a bit lost and you wanted them to feel better? I have.
I’ve used the public means of transport nearly every day for almost two years now. I see a lot of people rushing by in a hurry, talking on their mobile phones and avoiding eye contact with anyone. I’ve seen tourists stand around just looking. Crowds of people in the subway standing so close to each other, you could start counting their freckles, if you were so bold to look them in the eyes. In a big city everybody minds their own business. Smartphones now even give us an excuse for not looking up and having any social contact at all in public. People read a book or the news, write text messages, listen to music, check their social media pages and pretend to be all alone on this train. All of a sudden, without noticing it, I became one of them. Sometimes on my way home I wouldn’t even greet my neighbour on the train, simply because I was too busy trying to look busy with my smartphone.
I didn’t want to be like this.
So I made up a challenge. I wanted to know how many people would smile back at me when I smiled at them. To be honest, it wasn’t easy in the first weeks. It was hard for me to smile at complete strangers. What if this girl actually bullies a person in her class? Why should I smile at her? Then I asked myself another question: what if she was bullied by someone in her class? What if the man in the suit wasn’t on his way to work, but actually on his way back home after being rejected at a job interview? What if the woman with hundreds of shopping bags actually felt lonely and had no one to talk to? What if I made someone smile? That’s when I stopped asking myself.
As Amy Cuddy proved, our body can change our mind. We all know the term body language and we all know that it influences how other people see us. Unfortunately we tend to forget that language is a communication system and that in those systems there is always 2. In this case WE are the other one. Our body language has also an impact on OUR feelings. So what happens when we smile? We look happy, that’s why we used to smile on photos. I say used, because the percentage of people duckfacing for the camera is rising I believe. ;)
Imagine you smile at that boy/girl in front of you who’s looking outside the window and listening to music. He/she looks at you and sees that you’re giving him/her a cheeky smile for no obvious reason. Imagine that you were the only person who smiled at him/her that day. Imagine that your smile seemed so honest and pure to him/her that he/she smiled back. Imagine that smiling to you made him/her feel good! That’s the part when you start to feel really good.
Now I’m challenging you! Tell me how many people you made to smile back at you!

Lots of love,

PS: Also tell me if some of the smiles turned into a date invitation! ;)

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