Image courtesy of Sicha Pongivanich / FreeDigitalPhotos.net A hello or a smile to a passer-by could have a greater impact than you think.
I have just decided to start riding my bike again, and as I am cycling along the pathway that I am accustomed to using, I naturally pass other exercisers. Some are cyclists, and some are walkers or runners.
Sometimes I am in a better mood than other times when I cycle (or walk), and I often prefer a smile or a hi from some of the fellow exercisers I pass. I would say about 3 out of 10 people reciprocate the gesture.
When they do, I feel there is a quick, transitory exchange of good will. I can’t tell how the other person feels exactly of course. However, I wonder if the other person feels uplifted by that fleeting friendly gesture, because that's how I feel.
As most readers would relate to a friendly smile or hello, this isn't always reciprocated. People are stuck in their own world, and it doesn't occur to them why someone who they don't know should act friendly. I know this to be the case; but sometimes I feel a bit deflated, and sometimes I feel like a bit of an idiot for smiling. So I always try to return a gesture when it's sent my way.
When someone smiles at me, and I am not having one of those better moods, I am caught by surprise; but I do feel that much better. In the movie “Crocodile Dundee,” Mick says “G’day” to each person he passes in the crowded city of New York.
I sometimes wonder if Australia is getting to be like New York, with a simple hello becoming rarer and rarer as people are consumed by their daily business.
Of course, we can’t say hi to every person we pass; but if you are walking down a quiet road, or going for a relaxed walk, try a smile or a hello to someone. You will feel better, because when we smile, the brain believes you are happy and a positive feeling ensues. Also, you may help a depressed or anxious person feel a whole lot better, too.
I have found whether people respond to me saying 'Hello,' or smiling can vary depending on the area I am in and the age of the person. Around my home area most people respond and quite often the other person initiates the greeting. Older people (my age group) are the most likely to respond to my greeting but I have been surprised how many young people, including teenagers, are friendly. I know teenagers can be quite self conscious but many around here will return my smile or quick greeting. I agree with you, Jussi,e that there is an 'exchange of good will' and it lifts my spirits.