Want to Change the World in Five Seconds? Smile!

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 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.”}

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Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is a wellness cheerleader, yogini storyteller, and self-care maven.
She also writes for Huffington Post, Yoga International, Mantra Yoga+ Health, a beauty full mind, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds.
Kate’s books are now available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.

She is passionate about helping people fall in love with their lives.

You can connect with Kate on Facebook and Instagram.

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anonymous Aug 21, 2012 11:12am

[…] see myself. And, if it was easier to do, I would probably have an easier time letting others really see me […]

anonymous Aug 1, 2012 9:01pm

[…] Empathize with them to the best of your ability. Don’t be so mindless and unconscious in your daily interactions with others. Work to come from a place of service and offer whatever you can of yourself to others in the best […]

anonymous May 4, 2012 4:43pm

[…] “Did you know your smile can be a predictor of how long you’ll live—and that a simple smile has a measurable effect on your overall well-being?” Not only is smiling good for you, but it’s good for the people around you too. […]

anonymous Mar 14, 2012 3:59pm

[…] 6. Smile at everybody. It’s the best free investment you’ll make all day. […]

anonymous Mar 10, 2012 11:06am

You, and your accordionlessness.

    Kate Bartolotta Mar 10, 2012 5:21pm

    haha! yup. no accordion! (I can play the harmonica though. shhh don't tell anyone!).

anonymous Mar 10, 2012 11:05am

I just fell in love you, Kate.

anonymous Mar 10, 2012 10:53am

[…] rates in both Canada and the U.S., massive overpopulation issues, and I’ve seen firsthand how taking aim at correcting people can backfire and cause a tailspin of continued tragedy. My goal here isn’t to […]

anonymous Mar 10, 2012 10:42am

LOVE this, Kate!

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

Valerie Carruthers
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