I spent a lot of time this week thinking about how I travel through the world.
Here’s how it started: Last Weekend I was in Palm Springs for a work trip and went for a long run. I’d checked the local map ahead of time and saw an easy four mile loop, which I decided to do twice.
On my way out of the resort I ran past an older gentleman in a bright yellow shirt who was briskly walking along the sidewalk.
I didn’t give him much thought.
About three quarters of the way through my first loop, I saw him again. He was following the same route as mine, but in the opposite direction.
We were on the different sides of the street, but Mr. Bright Shirt called out, “Hi! I saw you leaving the hotel! And here you are again! Isn’t it a beautiful day?”
Now, before you think he was a big creeper, it really wasn’t like that at all. He was genuinely being friendly.
Fast forward to loop two. We met again.
This time we were old friends.
Mr. Shirt: “Wow! You’re still running. Way to go!” My response: “You, too. You’re almost there!”
The overall encounter left me with good vibes. I decided to carry it forward.
For the rest of the weekend and on into this week, I’ve tried to consciously move through the world with a smile on my face.
If I’m honest, my natural countenance isn’t always open and friendly. I often find myself charging around, getting things done and taking no prisoners.
This approach is so different.
Yesterday I had to walk from my office to the medical school. It’s about a five minute walk but it traverses a large part of our medical center.
It was the middle of the day and the place was packed with patients going to and fro.
I was running late and normally would have plowed past everyone, dodging wheelchairs as necessary.
But this time I slowed my roll, keeping a soft gaze and an open smile on my face.
Wow. Huge dividends.
Some people made eye contact and looked quickly away, but a lot of others smiled in return.
The biggest reward came from an older guy wearing bib overalls and a hat displaying an ad from a farming implement company.
He looked, looked away, then looked back with a smile double my size. “Hi!”
He made my day.