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Right now, I am taking an English Literature course as part of my required general education requirements.
I put it off until my junior year because even though I am good with words (I have to be as a journalism major), I don’t like reading old stories. Quite often, they are written in an older style that makes me spend more time decoding a foreign language than figuring out the meaning of the story.
This class turned out to be different.
While we still had to read Shakespeare, the teacher made it a point for us to relate older stories to newer readings and illustrate how these stories relate to our current everyday lives in the way they are retold throughout the years.
One of the newer stories was a 2003 article about suicide at the Golden Gate Bridge.
One victim caught my attention, and it was because of the note he left for his family.
In it, he said that if just one person smiled at him on his walk to the bridge, he would not jump.
Unfortunately, this note was discovered after his death, and it made me think about the way I treat strangers as I walk down the street.
For one, I always thought it was strange to acknowledge people that I did not know, and I often avoid making eye contact as I go to class.
However, that does not mean that I don’t want to acknowledge people–in fact, I love it when people acknowledge me, so why would anyone else be any different?
This website wrote that people would much rather look at the street or at billboards than make eye contact with someone on their walk. It attributes this to poor self-confidence.
We don’t need to go so far as to say “Hi!” to everyone we see, because that would get a little repetitive and robotic. Instead, eye contact should suffice, and if you’re really feeling happy, smile.
The simple act of smiling has numerous health benefits, including stress relief and the release of endorphins, which always brings pleasure.
Smiling also brings social benefits as well, because it usually tends to affect everyone else in the area. It’s always intriguing to wonder about why someone else is smiling, and it draws people in. It’s certainly better than looking angry, because people usually want to let an angry person be alone to deal with their issues.
You never know, your smile could be that one thing that turns someone’s worst day into their best.