Think of how many people you might pass by in a day. Do you often find yourself buried and maybe even consumed by your mobile device, tablet, laptop, or MP3 player? What if you picked your head up, took your earbuds out and said 'Please' and 'Thank you' out-loud to everyone you interacted with along your way?
What if you stopped looking at people as simple passersby and more like Divine vessels scattered along this glorious journey you all share, crossing your path for an inherent reason?
Read on for three simple ways to log off and create a real-life exchange with a stranger.
If you could give something to someone that had the power to change their entire day and was of no cost to you, wouldn't you give it? And if someone had the power to share the same with you, would you receive it?
Ever seen someone get angry from sharing a smile? Neither have I. Seeing a smile is a reminder that lets you know you are seen, acknowledged, recognized, felt. Maybe a smile calls your awareness back to reality so that you can see there is something worthwhile even in troubled times.
Whether you are on the sending or receiving end of that smile, the truth is, you are creating or connecting a contagious line of kindness, love, patience, and tolerance that will trickle into the universe and have, potentially, limitless effects.
So look up from your Kindle once in a while and share a smile. I bet someone can use it.
2. Hold a Door Open
It was a hot and muggy afternoon and looking at the time I knew I would just barely make my bus. I stuffed one last pair of yoga pants into my already too-full backpack so I could change for class after work. Glancing at my bus app, I had only six minutes to make a mad dash to the bus stop.
As I turned onto my street, there it was! I brushed the sweat off my brow and knew if I ran, I would make it. Coming up to the stop I noticed a mother and stroller hurrying towards me from the opposite direction. “One more, only one more!” called the bus driver. I let out a breath and knew it. It was me or the stroller.
I held the door open for the young mother long enough for her and baby to make it. I couldn't help but think if my headphones were in and I was not paying attention, I might have missed seeing them altogether. Looking at the bus disappear in the distance, I glanced at my app and it was another thirteen minutes to the next bus.
"I might be a little late," I thought, "but that mom and her baby don't have to wait in this sweltering heat." It made me smile. An older woman coming up on the sidewalk was smiling too. “I saw what you did,” she said. “We can wait together.”
How lovely it is to imagine a world of awareness, holding doors open for others and being of service when the opportunity arises.~Tanuja Rampersad
We spoke for thirteen minutes and when the bus arrived, she held the door open for me this time. I couldn't believe the gesture and kindness. A line had formed behind us, and I couldn't help but wonder if the other passengers took notice of this stranger's loving kindness towards me or had they been too plugged in to care.
It is my hope someone sees kindness in the most simple of gestures and passes it along to ease the strains of someone else's battle.
So the next time you can, practice mindfulness and hold a door open. Who knows what kindness will follow.
3. Keep All Devices Out of Dinner
I was having dinner solo one evening. Diving into my first slice of my favorite pizza, I couldn't help but look up and examine the restaurant. There was a beautiful family seated nearby, and I smiled because I knew their pizza would be extraordinary. The only odd part was, they were sitting in silence.
There were two tablets at the table and both parents were on their phones. The kids looked like they were watching a movie and playing a game, and from the parents' scrolling, perhaps they were checking email.
In that moment, I wondered if we lose precious conversation and the incredible insights kids have, when we stay plugged in. Don't you remember the questions you asked as a child, when technology wasn't present at the dinner table? I could recall many dinners I've had with friends, colleagues, and loved ones where at some point, we were just preoccupied with our devices. Were we, too, missing out on critical face-to-face interactions?
What will our kids say that keeps us laughing for generations? What will our partner have to share about their day? The likelihood is, lots. Make an effort to store you phone or tablet away from the table. Come back to your devices later, but for now, just savor this.
Technology is a beautiful thing. It allows us the greatest opportunity for keeping in touch, no matter the borders. But it is important we not allow technology to hinder our daily interactions, here, and now. What will you hear, see and feel around you the next time you commute with your phone, headphones and tablet tucked away?
Try it out. Don't be surprised if you meet or learn something completely wonderful.