Want to Change the World in Five Seconds? Smile!

Via on Mar 10, 2012

 I always smile at strangers.

I make a point of making eye contact and a genuine smile—none of that fake “lips only” stuff. So one morning, I smiled at this older gentleman in the grocery store and he stopped. He looked at me and said,

“You look just like my wife did when I met her. She died last year and I miss her every single day.”

And he started to cry! So I put my arms around him and gave him a big hug and just stayed there for a minute. It made me get choked up too. And we talked for a few minutes before we continued on with our days. I don’t know what it did for the rest of his day—but it changed mine. It woke me up a little more than usual. It stayed with me. It stayed with me for days that that split second decision to make eye contact with this man and smile at him could have such a dramatic impact.

We get so busy in our own little bubbles. We walk around texting. We worry so much about our own insecurities that we don’t reach out to others. We insulate ourselves against strangers—people even tell their kids:

“Don’t talk to strangers!”

But the truth is, we aren’t strangers at all: we are a 7 billion person family that has forgotten how to connect with each other. We have forgotten that the littlest gesture can make a huge difference in someone’s day. We have forgotten to look at each other. We have forgotten how to be kind—we seem to think it’s too difficult or costs us something we can’t take the time to give.

Kindness is free.

It is also the best investment you will ever make. A five second genuine smile can have exponential affects on the world.

{Many thanks to Robert Sturman for suggesting this photo for with my story. “I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.”}

About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is the strongest girl in the world. She is the love child of a pirate and a roller derby queen. She hails from the second star to the right. She doesn't know how to behave with all the apples and ibexes. She doesn't suffer from her eight million freckles, she loves them! Like a rolling stone, Kate gathers no moss. Kate loves kale, being barefoot, Dr. Seuss, singing too loudly, gallivanting, palindromes, blackberries and has far too many books for her own good. When she's not writing, you can find her practicing yoga, running in the woods, playing with her kids, devouring a book, planting dandelions, changing the world and doing her dishes. Kate does not play the accordion. She is a massage therapist, writer and a compassionate friend to all. This year Kate aspires to finally give up on learning to knit and will instead spend that time putting a little bit more of her heart on the page. Connect with Kate on Facebook and Twitter


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11 Responses to “Want to Change the World in Five Seconds? Smile!”

  1. ValCarruthers says:

    LOVE this, Kate!

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Spirituality Homepage.

    Valerie Carruthers
    Please go and "Like" Elephant Spirituality on Facebook

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  3. Danielle says:

    I just fell in love you, Kate.

  4. Danielle says:

    You, and your accordionlessness.

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