Do I know you?

Have you ever walked down the street or into a building and see someone walking towards you and have a momentary sense of panic?  What is her name?  Where do I know her from?  I know I’m not alone.  Mostly you can get by with a ‘Hello’ and a smile but if that person stops to talk to you, what do you do?

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Many years ago, I was in Penney’s, browsing the rails and I said hello to a woman I had met the previous weekend at a fundraiser.  She looked at me blankly and walked on.  Five minutes later I bumped into her again and gave her a half smile, you know the type, should I smile, should I say hello, should I pretend I don’t see her, does she remember me, so your smile is a half grimace, half apology type of smile.  She stopped, put her manicured hand on my arm and said, ‘do I know you?”

I remember praying that the ground would open up and swallow me.  Not a new concept I know but one we are all familiar with.  Red-faced and stuttering I explained that we had met the week before at a function.  When I mentioned my husband’s name it suddenly clicked with her and we both laughed and passed it off.  Her embarrassment for not knowing me was matched by my embarrassment at once again being the face that no-one remembers.

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I walk down the street sometimes and I see faces I recognise and some I don’t!  I don’t have a head for faces or names.  My husband never forgets a face, names not so much.  I was going out with him three months before he remembered my surname.

Anyway, on a day when all is good with the world and I am feeling confident and sure of my place in the world and I see a face I know, I will smile and say hi or lovely day and walk on.  That greeting is nearly always returned, mainly because it’s a catch-all for everyone, the comment of the weather, the smile, but that one incident so many years ago left a wariness in me, a fear even, of stopping that person and starting a conversation just in case they don’t remember me.

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I did it to another person once, unintentionally but I did it all the same.  This familiar face stopped me in the street and chatted away about how she hadn’t seen me in years and how were the kids etc and I smiled and chatted back while racking my brain as to who this person was or where I had met her before.  I tried but eventually, she realised that I had no clue who she was, or where we had met, and the conversation tapered off into nothing but embarrassment.

With hindsight, I should have been upfront.  I should have said, ‘So sorry, I can’t remember your name, how bad am I?” People are always forthcoming with information.  They will give you their name, where they are from, where you met and suddenly you do remember them.  You can converse with them and enjoy their conversation.  At the end of the day, very few of us have photographic memories for every face and every name we encounter in our journey through life.  It’s nice to get a little reminder, a prompt to jolt the memory.

 

 

Definition of Kindness

Just when you start to despair, a ray of hope shines through with simple stories of random acts of kindness.  I opened Facebook this evening and the first two posts I read were from people I knew who had experienced random acts of kindness from a stranger today.  How uplifting to know that there are still those in our midst whose first thought is to do good for others.

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I read recently a suggestion from someone that if you make an effort to perform an act of kindness for someone every day, just something small and random, then by the end of the year you will have brought a smile to 365 people.  Speaking of a smile brings to mind the lines of a poem attributed to Spike Milligan.

“Smiling is infectious. You catch it like the flu.

When someone smiled at me today I started to smile too.

I walked around the corner and someone saw me grin.

When he smiled I realised I had passed it on to him.

I thought about the smile and then realised its worth.

A single smile like mine could travel round the earth.

So if you feel a smile begin, don’t leave it undetected.

Start an epidemic and get the world infected.” 

That doesn’t mean we should all go around every day grinning like Cheshire cats but we can make the effort to smile at those we interact with.  Think of the dozens of people you interact with every day, your bus driver, the barista in the coffee shop, the guy behind the counter selling newspapers and bottled water, the receptionist in the office or the security guard on the door, your co-workers or your bosses.  It could be the girl who serves you lunch or the tired retail worker who checks out your purchases for dinner on the way home.  Think how much better you will feel if you greet them all with a smile.  Think of the knock-on effect on those you meet, for when you smile at them, they more than likely will smile back and be more inclined to pass on that smile to the next person they meet.

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So, today I have decided that in future I will make an effort to be more pleasant in my interaction with others, to be friendly and considerate in everything I do.  I think that effort will be rewarded with a more positive outlook for me and the knowledge that I may just have made someone smile and brought a little light into their day.

Social, to be or not to be

To me, the biggest advantage of social media, and Facebook, in particular, is the contact with old friends and far-flung family.  Thanks to Facebook I am in contact with people from my childhood, from my school days, friends, acquaintances and family from around the globe.

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While now and again people rant on Facebook and Instagram, most of the posts are happy and uplifting, imparting good news and holiday snaps and photos from birthday parties and weddings.  We post our best photos and share our joy in the world around us on Facebook.  We want our Facebook friends to share in our uplifting moments, our happy days.

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Anyway, it is good to keep in touch, even if it is only through social media.  It reminds you that life goes on around you with or without your participation.  It reinforces the indisputable fact that your life impinges on others, and their lives impinge on yours,  ever-widening circles of human interaction.

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But social media also reminds you that we humans are sociable creatures.  We need interaction, we need to talk to each other, we crave human contact.  It is when we become isolated that we encounter problems.  It is very easy to isolate yourself without planning to.  To take a back seat, and not contribute.  We have to try not to fall into that trap.  We have to interact with our fellow human beings and in a positive way.

Use social media as a force for good.  Join groups that educate, that entertain, that encourage you to engage with others.  Use social media to keep in touch with friends and family in far-flung places.   Enjoy those ‘likes,’ those comments on your posts, and the interaction with your Facebook friends.

Photo by Nobo Xious on Unsplash

But don’t depend on social media for your only human interaction.  Lift your phone and instead of scrolling through your newsfeed, call that friend you promised to meet for coffee.  Walk down your street and smile at the first person you meet and see that smile returned.  As Spike Milligan once wrote in a poem, ‘smiling is infectious.  You catch it like the flu.’  Google it!  It’s a great poem.  There is nothing more uplifting than a smile, or a poem about a smile.

 

 

Make it a good one

One of my resolutions for 2018 was a simple one, to be positive, to start every day with a positive affirmation.  I had intended printing out that affirmation and placing it on my bedside locker so that it would be the first thing I saw every morning.  That didn’t happen.  They all seemed so twee somehow!  Then one morning I woke, groaned as a wave of negativity hit me and then gave myself the proverbial kick in the ass.  That morning I picked a positive affirmation out of thin air.

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Most mornings I remember to tell myself that.  I even say it out loud much to the amusement of those around me.  Making the effort to be upbeat does help you focus on the positives.  Maybe that is the secret of happy people.  They don’t ignore the problems in their lives, they just don’t allow those problems to colour every aspect.  For happy people, the glass is always half full.

 

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and admired their upbeat and can-do attitude and discover that in their background they have issues that would drag the rest of us mere mortals into a downward spiral.  They are the people I admire and aspire to emulate.

We should all try and be aware that everyone has their own backstory that we know nothing about.  Everyone has their own set of worries and everyone deals with those worries differently.  What seems like an insurmountable problem for you could be a walk in the park for the next person and vice versa.  People struggle with relationships, money problems, debts, health, the list is endless.  Some people appear to handle whatever life throws at them while maintaining a ready smile and an acceptance of their fate.  Others rant and rail and complain to anyone who will listen.  Life is hard enough without making it harder on yourself and everyone around you.

So today I have reinforced my resolution.  Today I have told myself that today is the first day of the rest of my life and I intend to make it a good one.

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Have a wonderful weekend.  Get out and enjoy this fabulous weather.

Smile and the world smiles with you

This is week eight of my Year of Possibilities and things are looking up.  The days are starting to get longer although it remains very cold.  I think we can all cope with the cold winter days, provided it’s bright and frosty like this week.  My problem is when it’s wet and cold and miserable.  You know those grey days when the rain never clears, and the sky remains grey from morning to night.  In Ireland, the first two months of the year tend to be over populated by those grey days.  Our homes feel dark and grey after the twinkling lights of Christmas have been taken down and put away for another year.  The limited daylight and the wet cold weather prohibits outdoor activity and we miss the fresh air.  It can be hard to find any joy in these dark days.  Which is why it’s so important to look for any reason to smile, to laugh, to find joy in the everyday.

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A simple trick is to smile.  When you smile, that smile is invariably returned and lifts the heart.  I don’t mean grinning like an idiot at every passer-by in the supermarket.  You could get locked up for that.  But if you greet each person you interact with, with your friendliest smile, be it your butcher, your co-worker or your nearest and dearest, your smile will be appreciated and returned.  That interaction will make you feel better and will lighten the hearts of those around you.  The simple act of smiling is proven to raise your endorphins, making you feel better, lowering your blood pressure, relieving stress and boosting your immune system.  Simple isn’t it?  And smiles are catching.  You smile, your smile is returned to you and that person smiles at the next person they interact with and so the ripples extend outward touching more lives than you could ever imagine.  I think I might make it my mission in life to smile more, to spread joy, even if only in my limited circle, for who knows how far that circle could possibly extend to.

‘Smile and the world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone.’Vector illustration of cool glossy Single Emoticon