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Why smile at a stranger today? Monday March 31, 2014

Hello everyone.

As I slowly get to grips with understanding the reasons behind my depression, I'm finding it easier to talk about.

I'm also a lot more comfortable sharing my experience with people at work, now that I'm lucky enough to be back in a place staffed with friends.

All of which, I hope, does a bit to help destigmatise the subject.

I've found the response to telling people I write for the blog as one of curiosity, at the very least. In fact, it's been great. They often want to know more about it, get the address, read a post or two.

One of those friends is a writer called Piers. We got chatting about the importance of feeling connected to the world around, which led to a conversation about the contagious nature of smiling.

As it turns out, he'd written an ad that never ran, but has got to be worth an airing. So here it is.

Why smile at ten strangers today?

Well, because you'll spread the good feeling, a little kindness... and you never know; maybe you'll inspire one of them.

And maybe that person then holds the door for a lady running for the train...

Which in turn, means that lady makes her big meeting and wins a new client...

And maybe that success inspires the lady to take her whole company out for a slap-up lunch...

...which inspires Kelly in Finance to cook a nice meal that evening for her boyfriend, Steve...

...Steve then realises just how lucky he is to have someone as kind and wonderful as Kelly...

And as he watches the sun streaming in through their window, he makes a decision.

Tomorrow, he'll go and buy an engagement ring and get down on one knee.

And the world just got a little bit better, all because you smiled at 10 strangers.

Much like the smiles, sharing our stories can help make the world a better place. So if it's within you, smile at a stranger or share your story and you just never know what you might start.

A Moodscope member.

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valerie Mon, Mar 31st 2014 @ 9:30am

I am so glad you are working with people who you can trust.I would guess that some of those who ask about Moodscope are struggling with mental problems themselves,or living with someone who is.Your openness about your situation will be helping others you have never met,much like the person smiling at strangers.I find it is a very rare person who will not return a smile.


Anonymous Mon, Mar 31st 2014 @ 10:17am

Very good, Mark. Very good post indeed. Thank you. Julie.

Mary Mon, Mar 31st 2014 @ 11:44am

Just great, Mark! I love your posts. I will smile today, even I don't meet a stranger, because my family will appreciate it too. So very pleased you are working with people you trust.

Anonymous Mon, Mar 31st 2014 @ 12:15pm

Great to read this - it is perhaps the new trail leading towards a stronger more together society. It is an antidote to the campaign which led so many to 'Never Trust a Stranger' . Our community and indeed civilisation depends on Trusting Strangers! - but perhaps don't encourage your children to be too keen on uncle.... keep smiling!

Anonymous Mon, Mar 31st 2014 @ 1:09pm

Along the same lines when telephoning anyone unknown I try to open with a breezy "Good morning, it's Charlie B...., how are you?" before furthering the conversation - sometimes results in consternation because they think they should know you, or are suspicious that you're flogging something, but very often opens up a much more friendly and helpful dialogue than might have been. Indeed on more than one occasion a remark has been made that it's the first time anyone has actually appreciated that it's a "real" person on the switchboard, and my understanding has made their day!

Anonymous Mon, Mar 31st 2014 @ 1:27pm

I try to adopt this approach to life, however a few weeks ago I was at a gig where a guy became extremely threatening, since then I have been extremely anxious about strangers. I understand this man was drunk and may have been on drugs, but it’s really unsettled me. I was previously anxious due to exposure to various violent episodes. I used mindfulness techniques to break the anxiety that had built up then and have lived anxiety free for almost 3 years, but I am struggling to keep on top of it since the incident at the gig. I really want to live in peace and friendliness with the outside world but am extremely wary currently. I am disappointed with the set back, but am waiting to see if I can bounce back or if I may need a bit of help to move on.

Anonymous Mon, Mar 31st 2014 @ 1:51pm

Hello anonymous 1.27pm: how horrible for you, but well done for being anxiety free for almost 3 years! If you find your mindfulness techniques need something extra, have you ever tried yoga? There are various visualisations that might help e.g. visualising yourself surrounded by a golden "egg" or light golden armour; as you have proved to yourself in the past 3 years, by and large people are generally decent and friendly; my guess is that you will bounce back and that this is a very understandable set back. I wish you peace of mind and heart. Frankie

Anonymous Mon, Mar 31st 2014 @ 2:30pm

Very good post Mark. Very well written and inspiring. I too have coworkers who are understanding. I am currently off of work and hope to return soon. I just have to build up the courage to go into work for a visit and say hello again. I went in for a visit in January and found it very stressful and my anxiety was very high. Neil

Julia Mon, Mar 31st 2014 @ 2:59pm

Smiling is so important. Sometimes I watch peoples' faces for a while after they have smiled at me and often their face goes back to "normal" instantly which makes me think their smile isn't genuine. So I always try to keep the smile on my face for a few seconds, maybe more after smiling at someone. My boss used to tell me to smile with my eyes and another friend, when I was leaving him and the area, told me not to forget to smile as I had a lovely one. The first thing I noticed on my first of many visits to Thailand was their lovely smiles which seemed very genuine and make you feel so good about yourself. It's really good to hear you have sympathetic colleagues at work Mark.

Lostinspace Mon, Mar 31st 2014 @ 3:32pm

Smiling is a very British thing too, or at least it was when I lived there. I find myself smiling as a sort of politeness thing, if someone says Good Morning to me I don't think I can reply without smiling (unless it is an arch enemy!). The old man who owned the building I live in used to remark on my smile, I realise now that he never smiled - I have tried and tried to remember his smile and .. nothing. Poor old thing, he was rather miserable too and spread it around quite a bit. Ages ago a vicar once told his congregation that if you give a beggar some money you should look at them properly and smile, quite hard to do but lovely for the beggar. Imagine living on the streets, have you noticed that people don't look at them let alone smile? A smile can make you vulnerable, there is the "polite"smile which comes and goes as Julia says, but if you really smile at someone you are opening up a little and who knows what may try and get in that gap?!! When I feel miserable and don't want to talk, I just don't smile. There is more to this smile business t than meets the eye. Thanks Mark, I enjoyed the post and you can see it made me think!

DawnCRitchie Mon, Mar 31st 2014 @ 3:32pm

Does anyone else's comment just dissappear when they're trying to publish? Its happened to me several times :(

Lex McKee Mon, Mar 31st 2014 @ 3:59pm

I happens to me lots, Dawn. So, [Cntrl] + [A] to select all your text before you come to publish. Then [Cntrl] + [C] to copy all of what you've just written into your computer or tablet's memory. If you do this, and then the system kicks you out, losing the contribution, you'll be able to get it back by pressing [Cntrl] + [V] for 'paste'. I've lost so many contributions that I do this ritual now as a habit. Nothing lost - frustration avoided x

Lex McKee Mon, Mar 31st 2014 @ 4:03pm

"Kindness is Contagious"... but only for those who haven't developed an immunity to it. I really felt touched by the references above to those who don't respond to a genuine smile. This can be frightening, discouraging, even dangerous. To protect myself from these disappointments to a degree, I have a simple thing I say to myself, "Ah, the blessing returns to me!" This is not to minimise situations where you encounter someone who is truly hostile, but in general acts of kindness and smiling, I do find that some people ignore this or take it for granted. Knowing that the 'giving' is good for me - regardless of their response - I find accepting my blessing returning to me helps me not be offended or hurt.

By the way, I'd love to see Piers' ideas turned into a YouTube video. Nice one Mark!

Anonymous Mon, Mar 31st 2014 @ 4:46pm

Thank you Frankie, I enjoy smiling at people so I hope I can get on top of this and get back to normal soon. Thanks for your suggestion s, I do some yoga, but maybe its time to do a bit more development. Thanks again.

Anonymous Mon, Mar 31st 2014 @ 7:54pm

What a lovely idea - the blessing returning to me - how clever and generous of you Lex! Frankie

Anonymous Mon, Mar 31st 2014 @ 9:36pm

when a stranger smiles at me it never fails to make me feel good. i try and do it myself now when i can

Suzy Mon, Mar 31st 2014 @ 11:00pm

I love this! (Happy face, happy face, happy face...)

DawnCRitchie Wed, Apr 2nd 2014 @ 9:44pm

This was almost funny. I was about to press the button with my response to you...
...and the power shut off on my Kindle Fire! :D
Thanks for your advice Lex, I'll do what you suggest in future x

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