Monday, June 17, 2013

the power of saying 'good morning'

say good morning

we live in a world in which some days it seems as if we rarely pass someone who glances up from their phone to make eye contact as our paths cross
or in which we pretend that the stranger next to us in line or in the elevator is in their own world while we are in another dimension
i have recently been reflecting on a phenomenon that has emerged on my morning jogs
the power of saying ‘good morning’

it happens
two people on the same side of the sidewalk approach each other coming from opposite directions
each needing to pass the other to get to their destination
what do you do
do you lock on some spot behind them, seeing right past them
do you look at the ground or over to the side
do you fumble around on your phone with some sudden pressing matter
do you even cross the street altogether to avoid the awkwardness you feel of passing a stranger

or have you experienced the power of saying ‘good morning’
you approach a person who most often carries a somber expression on their face
an expression which can make some people seem down right scary
eyes darting to avoid direct contact
a hurriedness to make the crossover to the other side of you
but lo and behold when you utter {or gasp between concentrated breaths as is often my case while jogging}
those magic words ‘good morning’
a whole new person transforms before your eyes
the corners of their mouth turn up
the whiteness of their teeth peek through
a brightness illuminates from their face as they return the greeting
and although it may have been the most brief of interactions
you have changed someone’s day
you have brought life to their face
you have lightened your own heart
oh how our world would be so different if we did a little more of this
acknowledging that we live in the same world, breath the same air, enjoy the same desire for happiness and fulfillment and purpose
by simply greeting them with an universal expression of care and humanity

as a mother i have taught my children the ins and outs of stranger danger and talking with strangers
and i too have employed such caution when situations may have seemed sketchy or my conscience strikes me with something wary
but i hope that in addition to my instruction of safety and self-preservation 
that as my children have accompanied me on various walks 
they have seen the power of saying ‘good morning’ or a simple smile
that they too can experience that rush of goodness that fills your heart when you see that outward expression of acknowledgment on someone else’s face
and yes there are those who continue to ignore your gesture
and it stings and embarrasses a little
but those experiences are a whole other lesson in itself

i know it is scary and so sad to have to raise our children in a world where we have to be ever cautious of them drawing attention to themselves through friendliness
and in a world in which friendliness is viewed as a weakness to prey upon
but i believe we can do both
teach our children the strength and savvy of being aware of the dangers in the world around them
and still enlighten them about the good they will find within it as well
we must teach them how they can contribute and make an impact through simple ways of kindness
that there is a reason they feel warm inside when they do something nice for someone else
that we were designed to influence others around us in positive ways
oh how i pray i can instill this balance within my children

i challenge you to discover the power of saying ‘good morning’ for yourself
it may feel silly at first, but you’ll find its easier than you think
with great benefits
of course if you live in Minnesota you are probably wondering why anyone would not say ‘good morning’ to someone else

have you experienced something like this power in your life?  those of you parents, how have you encouraged kindness in your children?


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