It’s not hard to let yourself get bogged down by the daily grind and negativity these days, whether that be induced by other people, poor customer service, or just a dirty look a stranger gave you. If you’re looking for the negative, it can easily be found. But as of late, I’ve been taking the “glass-half-full” approach to life, and the paradigm shift has been life changing.
My attitude began changing when I started taking my baby, Mackenzie, out in public. First of all, it’s nearly impossible to be grumpy in her presence, or any baby’s presence for that matter. So I when we went out, and when we go out now, I walk around happy, and the people we encounter are affected by this infectious glee, which renders the optimistic aura to be triumphant. Not only are people being influenced by Mackenzie’s unadulterated charm, but they are also being met with a welcoming smile from mom.
When you think about it, it isn’t really the etiquette in our society to greet, smile at, or really even acknowledge random people we encounter throughout our day. Instead, it is custom to rely heavily on earbuds and electronics to create barriers between ourselves and other human beings. We block people out immediately with manufactured distractions to an excessive and even awkward point. We ride in silence on elevators, are neglected by cashiers, and heaven forbid we get stuck in a waiting room with another person. That’s when all eyes immediately fall upon an electronic screen of some sort. Therefore, when I walk around making eye contact with people, I think they find it refreshing. My agenda is usually to see if they’re fawning over Mackenzie; nonetheless, I acknowledge them. I smile at them. I open the door for discourse, and usually they take advantage of the opportunity. Often times they start by making a comment about Mackenzie, but this tends to lead to further dialogue. When I was in a waiting room the other day, an older gentleman effortlessly opened up to me about his kids, telling me that his daughter was due to have her second baby that week. So not only did it give us something to talk about while we waited, but it gave me the opportunity to be a sounding board for his exciting news.
Overall, I feel more connected and more comfortable going out in public these days. No longer is it my MO to avoid people. These days I embrace the opportunities for interaction with strangers. I’ve realized that people are generally friendly; we just tend to stifle the quality in our culture. So by making the first move and smiling at others, I’m usually able to get the gesture reciprocated, and I’d like to think that they then pass it on to the next person they see (so that the cheer is perpetuated).
Furthermore, despite Golding’s portrayal of the human race in Lord of the Flies, I believe that people are inherently good. Since having a baby, people have been overly kind, helpful, and gracious. Perfect strangers have opened doors for me, helped me with groceries, and carried toilet paper up to my door when I didn’t have enough hands for the task. Now I know that Mackenzie has been the catalyst for this behavior, but I don’t think she has made these people nice. I think they’ve always had the penchant for it, and she’s just given them the opportunity to deploy the behavior. Either way, I no longer assume the worst from strangers. This could possibly be a self-fulfilling prophesy, or maybe all I needed to do all along was smile (or have a baby). The point is, people are good, God is great, and it’s the miracles in life (not the annoyances) that we should try to enumerate.