Today I went for a run. However, today’s run was no typical run. I did run the same path I usually run, at the same time I usually do. But today I decided to change it up a bit. I made a conscious decision that I would smile at every person I passed on the path while running. I couldn’t tell you why I randomly decided to do this, but I’m happy I did.
Three minutes into my run I smiled at the first set of people I came across. I was not surprised actually when they didn’t smile back. So I kept on going, I passed about 5 more people within a few minutes and again smiled at each and every one of them. Still, I received no smiles back. At this point I was becoming a little discouraged and thought maybe this was a dumb idea. But instead, I kept trying. It wasn’t until about the 15th person I passed, that I finally received a smile back. This was also towards the end of my run and by this point, I figured I was going to go zero for zero on smiles.
Maybe it was the fact that it was the end of the day and people were drained. Or maybe because when I try to smile while running it probably looks more creepy than anything. My face is red, I’m sweating profusely, and I’m trying to focus on keeping my breath on pace, add a smile into the mix and well…you see my point. Whatever the case may be, I shouldn’t have been surprised by my result of 1 smile out of 15.
I will admit I am used to looking down or straightforward while running, ignoring everyone around me. Making a conscious effort to make myself make eye contact with strangers and smiling is not only uncomfortable, but it is also eye opening. As cheesy as it may sound, and I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times, smiling is contagious. And for that matter, so is a positive mood in general. However, it does not always mean its contagious to others alone. Maybe it was the peppy music I was listening to, the new headphones I was wearing, the sun shining…but I was in a really good mood for my entire run. Heck, I couldn’t even make it to a full 2 miles before I stopped running and started walking and I was still genuinely happy.
Here is the eye opening part; I learned that from the simple gesture of smiling at people, that I am so caught up in my own self. While running I always avoid interaction with people at all costs. But when I take a step back, I realize I do this a lot in my life outside of running as well. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. We have become so robotic in interacting with other people that it has become NORMAL. If you go to the grocery store, the mall, the dog park, even work for that matter, I can bet on some level you are avoiding interaction with others. Or if you are “interacting” its the robotic conversation of, “Hi, how are you?” and your only answer is, “Good.” Conversation over, if you event want to call it a conversation.
Smiling at strangers was a small step, but on the same note it was a huge one. I didn’t even have to say anything. I just smiled.
Chalk it up to a runners high and positive energy, wherever you want to draw your conclusion the choice is yours. But I will challenge you to at least try this. We all know actions speak louder than words and sometimes a simple gesture such as a smile can totally reroute a bad day. So smile at everyone on your path. Whether they smile back or not. And don’t be discouraged when they don’t, because there might be a lot of it. But over time with all of the smiles you give out, you will surely get them back. If you exude positivity, then positivity will be attracted to you.
Whether life is going uphill, downhill, you’re happy, sad, exhausted…smile 🙂 You may not be the only person who needs it.