smile at strangers : probably make their day better


Many a times it has happened, my heart was breaking inside and I had to show no emotions on the outside. I know how difficult it is, and I have (believe me or not) been in such situations way too much.

What pulls me along on such a day, is a reason or excuse to smile. Absolute stranger, who was probably thinking about someone else and smiling, or was remembering a sweet memory and smiling, or talking to someone on phone and smiling. But somehow ended up smiling at me, and out courtesy and reflex, I smile back.

This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, momentarily I forget the pain inside me and its easier to pretend that nothing is wrong with me today.

Blame my over thinking nature, this occurrence and phenomenon struck to me only after I sat and thought at the end of the day, how come it dint go THAT bad. And the reason would be simple.

Some stranger made me smile!

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46 thoughts on “smile at strangers : probably make their day better

  1. Oh this is so interesting. When I’m in “western” countries I rarely say hello, or smile at strangers on the street. It’s just not done. But In India I did it all the time. Everyone I passed (except when it was really crowded of course) I’d say ram ram, or namaste, and always got a smile and response in return. I loved that about India. That I could just say hello to anyone on the street and get a smile and greeting about 99% of the time. (The other 1% I just think they’re having a bad day).

      • Well I think part of it is being in a small town – even in small towns in the west everyone smiles and says hello to each other, and I found this to be equally true in India. It’s seems to me that people are less open in the big cities. Of course I was a tourist, and carrying a camera so that was an introduction in itself. People love to be seen, to be acknowledged. I’m going to try it more wherever I am – just smiling at people I pass on the street. Such a simple thing.

      • that is a new perspective, which I am currently understanding Alison.
        life in the small town is more peaceful and joyous. people are more content and happy with the way they are leading their lives, unlike in the cities, where its more or less like a rat-race!

      • I think one of the things about greetings/smiles in a small town is that most people know, or know of, each other. I found this living on the rural edge of Tiruvannamalai for nearly 3 months. Even though I’m obviously not Indian, and don’t speak Tamil, I (kind of) became a recognised part of the community as I walked into town every day. Then in the cities my camera was a give away – that gave me an excuse to approach people, to smile, to recognise their existence in the crowd.

        There is the issue of course of single women. You don’t go smiling at any man who walks by! Probably get yourself into trouble! But as Mythreyi says – kids are great to make contact with, and that leads to smiles with their mum. (I stay away from dogs myself :))

        I’m so looking forward to doing a blog post “Portrait of India” of all the wonderful shots I got of people, that almost always led to contact with them, but I want to complete the stories of my travels their first.

    • Absolutely my dear friend!
      Smile is such an easy thing to do..and contagious too. It is a small step into world peace.

      I smile -> you smile -> we worry less -> we are more happy -> we aren’t envious -> we don’t fight for more ->peace

  2. I do this so often! Usually when I’m feeling particularly upset about something, I look out for kids and dogs- they are easy to smile at. And once I really start smiling, people smile back, and then my day doesn’t seem so bad as it did.. 🙂 🙂

    • Dogs and kids are easy to bond cuz they don’t burden us with their problems and issues.
      we adults are fools, we sit and chit chat and all we do is gossip, talk about others, be envious, and the only thing we take back with us at the end of a conversation is negativity!!

      I find even cows very meek creatures to talk to. Looking into a cow’s eyes, I feel I can see the pain and feelings. Probably sounds insane, but it happens!

  3. Hasn’t happened with me,ever. Could be that I was not looking.
    But yes, I have not smiled at a stranger myself. At least not consciously. Now am thinking, I should. But if I get hit, I am going to come back and put the blame on you 🙂

    • hahaha… you will never get hit for giving a genuine smile to someone.
      like I replied to someone else’s comment, we need to inculcate the etiquette of greeting people – regardless of how well we know them.
      and no blaming me if you get hit by a girl for passing a sleazy smile 😉

  4. I really enjoyed this article as it brings a healthy, good attitude into everyday practice. It makes my day whenever I get a genuine smile or a smiley face on my daily Starbucks 🙂

    Excellent!

  5. We do this a lot down here. It’s rather customary, if your eyes meet, you smile or speak, but maybe that’s just a southern thing. I’ve heard it’s different up north but wouldn’t know for sure.. 😀

    • Different places, different people, different attitude. and only one thing connects us all – we all want to be happy in our lives. And to think of it, its not that difficult a job!

  6. Hey, just started following more your blog. I really like this post, I can empathise. I love to receive a random smile, but I find myself giving them more often than not. It can really perk somebody’s day up. I think happens less in cities, and people are dubious over random smiles, but that, I think, only heightens the gift a little more 🙂

  7. Wow… sometimes I look so unsmiling… Not intentionally, but always thinking… It is critical to remember the power of a smile! Thanks for stopping by and liking my post… come on back when you can.

    • I sure will, Darius.
      And I got reminded of a great saying I heard long back –

      “Smile a while, and when you smile – the world will smile, and soon there will be miles of smiles, cuz life is worthwhile only when you smile”

  8. I really love this topic!Thank you for sharing! It`s wonderful! I live quite a while now in Western Europe, but I`m originally from a small Island in the Southern Caribbean. I remember when I got here that I really had to get used to the fact that I couldn`t smile anymore at everyone because of the crowdness and the people in europe always being in a hurry. Since then until today, when someone smiles at me… or the opposite and I catch a smile back..they make my day!! I think that it`s contagious when you smile because most of the time people laugh back and that feeling is wonderful! 🙂 Thank you liking my post! I`ll sure come back to read more of your great postings.

    • Hi Nadyess,
      I love your crisp and to-the-point posts. Sometimes I just find the exact one to linger on with me all day! 🙂
      You inspire a lot of people out there – keep writing. And keep spreading the smile since from your Gravatar photo- I can see a beautiful smile too.

      Have a great day ahead!

      • Well thank you very much for your nice words! I still need to learn a lot about blogging and am certainly thankful with such nice comments like yours. It keeps me going! So thanks again and have a good day! 🙂

  9. Great post and pictures. The gap between what is inside and what is outside is surprising at times. Just getting up and going out, yes, and smiling at people produces amazing responses and results (sometimes people get confused of course – ‘do I know that guy’ you can see them thinking…thanks

    • Even before the thought process of ‘do I know that guy’ starts, the immediate reflex action is a response back – smile. It may not be true all the time though. Some may raise their eyebrow and think ‘do I know that guy’.
      But I guess we wont find out the different types of responses, till we go out there and experiment smiling!!

  10. I loved this post, and I know exactly what you mean. I just moved to the big city of Chicago from a small, Northern California town where you always seemed to bump into someone you knew every time you left your house. Because of this, you walked around smiling and greeting everyone. Now that I’m here in Chicago, I walk the city streets smiling and greeting people that try to ignore me and look away! I think it’s kinda funny and I hope that once they pass me, they’ll let their guard down for a second and give a smile back…. even if I don’t get to see it.

    On a completely different note, I walked around a furniture store yesterday while Christmas shopping. James Brown was playing over the loud speakers and there was a man checking out a display and really getting into the music. He was dancing and grooving. It made me smile and laugh to a point that I actually stayed in the section pretending to shop while obviously watching him. Those are the best people to bump into!

  11. My first teacher used to say: “Don’t leave your house to go out into the world if you have a gloomy look on your face – you will be spreading an infectious disease into the world! Smile, then go on your way – the Smile is like your seat belt in your vehicle – it will keep you from harm.” Nice, Huh?

  12. It really makes a difference..Something which is common in the western countries but hardly seen in Indian society..Leave alone strangers, we often dont smile with our coworkers at our respective workplace..

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