Some years ago, while stopped at a traffic signal, a woman in the car next to me got my attention by yelling “Hey!” When I turned my head to see who was yelling at a volume loud enough so that I could hear over the sound of my diesel truck, the woman yelled “Smile!” I immediately gave a genuine happy smile and she returned a big smile too. She then yelled “Much better!” right when the traffic signal turned green and we drove off.
Who doesn’t like a smile? I didn’t realize while sitting in my truck that my deep thought, or no thought, had affected what my face was doing. My face was doing nothing, and my brows tend to furrow when in thought so I probably looked somewhat irritated or preoccupied.
That communication with a complete stranger, and the commanding request to simply smile, allowed me to break out of my selfish bubble. It was a wonderful eye opener and it allowed me to see and experience everything around me in real time.
To this day I remember the incident vividly and it has forever changed what I am thinking while stopped at a traffic signal, or when simply driving in general. People are people too, whether they exist within my circle of friends or acquaintances. We’re all simply people, trying to do the best we can with what we have.
When I look to my side while driving or stopped at a traffic signal I often smile, whether the next person’s glance is returned or not. Those smiles are contagious and they release wonderful contentment producing chemicals within our brain. Best of all…they are free!