A simple smile can change the world.

Have you ever had a stranger compliment you as they passed by? Or someone you barely know appreciate that you’ve done something well? How about a genuine smile, or a, “Good morning,” from an unfamiliar person?

It makes us feel good, shifts us out of our thinking patterns, and can set us up for a good day.

Now consider how many times we’ve done it for others, we can all spread more kindness in this manner.

Some people are harder to connect with than others. Maybe we have set patterns that we can break, for instance, we never say, “Hello” to a security guard we see regularly at work and think it would be odd to start. Or we think it would be strange to compliment a taxi driver on his driving, because that’s just not what’s done. Or how about a conversation with the outcast parent at your daughter’s ballet class who always sits by herself?

We don’t know what others are going through and what state of mind they are challenged with. A simple smile, or a few nice words can sometimes snap someone out of their negative thoughts and into a better place.

It can be like, The Butterfly Effect where one small kindness can lead to better thoughts, which can lead to better actions, and then better habits, and a better life.

Or maybe our smile goes to a “pay it forward” type of person. If the cab driver we complimented gets a lift in his mood, he might next pick up a school teacher and share a kind word. The school teacher may then be extra encouraging to her students, who then go home and have a good evening with their families.

People do bad things when they are feeling bad, and we can deter them by making them feel good. A simple smile is a small gesture that can have an incredible impact.

Take action: “Hugging is fully returnable.” It’s more than just a cute saying, a good hug can have massive benefits for people. It can relieve stress, give us security, build trust between the huggers, and increase our human connections. Become a good hugger by thinking of the benefits you’re giving the hugged.

:: Inspired by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen’s book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: 101 Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit.

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