One thing I loved about living in Georgia was that everyone said hello. Actually, everyone said, “Hey”. Strangers said hey in the grocery store, in restaurants and just walking by on the street.
That doesn’t happen in my life very often anymore. Maybe that’s because I’m not in the south anymore or maybe it’s because of technology. When I lived in Georgia, there was no such thing as a cell phone, iPod or even email.
Today we are so connected, that we are often disconnected. I am a friendly person, but it is second nature for me to pop in my ear buds as soon as I get on a plane, start exercising or even when I’m working. Confession: sometimes I’m not listening to anything.
Ear buds are my do not disturb sign. They are also a sign that I’m not open to human connection. Ear buds say, “I am focused on my work, my space and my time and you aren’t invited.” I appreciate solitude and understand that there are times when I really need those ear buds, but not all the time.
I challenged myself, and I’m about to challenge you with a special mini-mission. Yesterday, I went walking (sans ear buds) in a popular Salt Lake City park and said “Good Morning” to every person I passed. I didn’t count, but am sure that I said “Good Morning” to more than 20 people in less than 30 minutes. Not only did I say “Good Morning”, but I did it with a friendly smile. Everyone smiled and said “Good Morning” back to me. I didn’t go as far as hugging everyone like my friend Joshua may have done, but really stepped outside of my comfort zone.
What came from this experiment?
- I realized how often I avoid eye contact. It was a real challenge to look people in the eye that I didn’t know. Eye contact can feel threatening, but it is an immediate connection.
- Focusing on others made it easier. When I thought about brightening someone’s day and sincerely wishing them a good day, it was easier than when I was thinking about myself and how awkward I felt.
- We are more alike than we think. Everyone smiled back sincerely. I didn’t get one back off crazy smile. I remember how people treat me, and when a stranger waves or says hello, I feel recognized. Not in a I know you kind of way, but in a I know you are a person just like me kind of way. That recognition is important to our hearts.
- It’s ok to be uncomfortable. I survived my discomfort, learned a few lessons, and had a brighter day because of it. While comfort is nice, it’s often in that place of discomfort that answers are revealed.
- Kindness is underrated. A simple “Hello, how are you?” or sincere “Good Morning” goes a long way. When you are ready, stretch your wings and ask “How can I help?” Fight the need to be protective and think the best of people. Be nice more often. This behavior spreads.
Ok, now it’s your turn. Your mini-mission is to intentionally say “good morning” or another appropriate greeting to everyone you see the next time you are at the grocery store, out walking or wherever you pass by other people. This mini-mission also requires eye contact. It will feel strange and some people will think you are weird but you will be ok. When you look at people, really look at them, you can’t help but wish the best for them.
I am grateful that cell phones, email, Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist when I lived in Georgia. It was there that I fell in love with photography, met my best friend Kellie and said “hey” everyday to perfect strangers.
Go on, unplug and say good morning.
I’d love to know what you think about this mini-mission. Does it make you nervous or uncomfortable? Are you willing to give it a try? Do you recognize self-imposed disconnection in your own life?
P.S. A new 4 week session of the goodblog project starts on August 20th. If you have a blog and are interested in growing readership, generating revenue and doing it simply and honestly, email me for details.
For more experiments to simplify your life, read Mini-missions for Simplicity. It’s available on the Amazon Kindle store, but you don’t need a Kindle to read it. Kindle books can also be read using the Free Kindle Reader App for your Web Browser, PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android.