Happy Friday! I missed posting the past two weeks due to surgery and vacation. I’m eager to share with you today and ask for your indulgence as it’s a story inspired by my daughter.
This week, Aria began Jumpstart Kindergarten, a program for children starting kindergarten to get acquainted and comfortable with the routine before the school year begins. New Employee Orientation for kindergarteners! The first day the parents were invited to stay for breakfast with their child. I found myself looking over the children and thinking to myself, “you can be friends with her, her, him, not her, him…” and as I became aware of what I was doing I was a bit ashamed. I know nothing about these children. I was simply looking at their faces, body language, conduct … and their parents.
When I arrived to pick Aria up, I noticed she was resting her head on her arms and wasn’t talking to anyone. I felt a pang of sadness. Nobody wants their child to be lonely or sad. The second day when I picked her up, she ran up to me and said, “Mommy, I have four new friends: Janna, Mercedes, Rocky, and I can’t remember my fourth friend’s name!” The third day when I dropped her off, she was looking up and around for her friends, and when she saw them she smiled and pointed them out, which they did as well.
Look up, child! Are you looking up and greeting those you meet when walking the halls at work or crossing the street or out shopping? I am amazed and a little saddened how many times walking to meetings I see people with their faces buried in their cell phones and looking down. I understand we are busy and sometimes walking to the meeting is the only chance we have to check email, but we’re losing something that’s very important. Connection. Sharing a smile with someone.
Behavioral Scientist, Nicholas Epley (University of Chicago) has studied why, if connecting with others makes us happy, do we so often avoid it? He conducted experiments with people on a train. One group was to keep to themselves and another group was to strike up a conversation with someone. His research showed that even something as simple as making eye contact had benefits. No one likes feeling invisible when someone walks past. In fact, the Germans have a term for it – wie Luft behandeln, which means “to be looked at as though air.”
Stop enabling loneliness and short changing your own happiness. Talk to someone you don’t know, look up when passing someone and say hello or smile, it will boost your happiness and the other person. Small positive experiences make a difference.
Here’s to looking up, connecting, and striking up a conversation today!