2012. A Year for Smiles

Here's to hoping the Mayans were wrong!

My New Year resolution is to make everyone I come in contact with smile. You are forewarned. I WILL crack you.

Sharing smiles with strangers has long been a personal philosophy of mine, at times to the occasional chagrin of David and the embarrassment of my former teenaged kids, but this year I want to conscientiously up my ante. I want to be more aware.

My motives are somewhat selfish, I must admit, as I feel I am going to come out of this experience changed, but I’m fairly certain that it will be for the better. I know that during the course of this year I will, at times be made more joyful, and other times be the butt of a joke or the subject of an eye roll. Still I think the odds will be in my favor.

How many smiles will I encounter? Of this number how many lives can I change for the better – even if it is in the tiniest of ways? Can I keep a person from going home and kicking their dog? From feeling lonely? Would the smile spread to their next customer, their family, a friend in need?

After thinking about this, I realize I can’t go about this all willy nilly. I can’t, for example, be in a crowded subway and go around jumping from person to person like an idiot or standing on a seat above the throngs to start up an impromptu stand-up routine… I’m going to have to set some ground rules.

Our fast-talking, taxi-flagging, black-wearing, eff-bomb dropping urbanite daughters, The Piglet and Decibel, both live in New York City and I’m not about to give up visiting them because of an impossible dream to brighten up every passerby on a crowded mid-town street.

So here are my ground rules:

  1. In EVERY one-on-one organic situation – the cashier at a grocery store, a fellow hiker, a tour guide, EVERYone I am blessed to share a moment with – I will attempt to brighten their day with a friendly “hi,” a happy tale, a goofy laugh.I will do good deeds. I will go out of my way – WAY out of my way – to help carry luggage and groceries, assist old ladies across streets, aid stranded motorists.
  2. I will compliment. I will be more cognizant of others efforts and instead of keeping my appreciation to myself, I will take a moment to let them know.

    I will thank people FOR. Instead of a my usual cursory “Thank you,” I will be sure to show my gratitude by thanking them specifically FOR something. (I see a lot of “Thank you for being so patient with me”s in my future!)

    I will make eye contact. I’m amazed time and time again at how well this works. It doesn’t matter where I am, whether I speak a common language – eye contact and a smile rarely fails.

    No keeping numerical tabs. This is not about quantity, but quality. In the subway or crowded street situation, I will be happy with one person per car, per busy block.

    No “one-size fits all” shenanigans. I want to keep my quest on a personal level, I want to be able to reflect on one person at a time. The old smiley face-tee-shirt-have-a-nice-day routine won’t do.

Finally, I’m going to document some of my new friends’ smiles. And share them here with you. Share my wealth, as it were.

Happy New Year to each and every ONE of you. I appreciate you more than you could ever know.

Happy 2012! Here’s to hoping the Mayans were wrong!

Veronica, GypsyNester.com

YOUR turn: Help me out here! Any suggestions you have to help me make folks smile will be GREATLY appreciated!

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21 thoughts on “2012. A Year for Smiles”

  1. The compliments, especially to wait staff, can open more avenues. We had lunch at a large chain restaurant. Most of these have staff that are “zombie” trained to say just the correct things to their customers. On this particular day, the young lady that served as our waitress was out of that mold and gave us stupendous service; very genuine and warm. Even though we tipped her well for her excellent service. I asked her if we might speak to the manager. She queried us as had she done something wrong. I again asked her to bring the manager. It was terrible to see her concern about her work. When her manager came to the table I asked the waitress to stay and then complimented her skills to the manager in glowing terms. Every thing from the greeting she gave when we arrived to the quickly retrieved special diet needs that I had. I wanted her to know what was said about her to the manager by having her present. This episode allowed us to know that the manager had been working hard in her short tenure managing this location and was so pleased that her efforts were paying off but it also started a dialogue with a young single mother who was completing her college degree, planning her upcoming wedding and making a positive impression in her job. As time has moved forward, we have followed her life, shared in the wedding via her photos and her daughter as well, met her now husband and visited her new home. That one little compliment has brought a wonderful young woman into our life. Had we just eaten our lunch and gone on, think of what we would have missed. Your idea is wonderful and we encourage it whole heartedly. We are the direct recipients of where it can lead.

  2. Hi there! Just came across you guys for the first time and, while I can’t imagine selling my own nest and would be very sad if my parents did (I’m a homebody and majorly blessed to have spent some of my years even in the same houses my parents grew up in!), I love your idea of traveling and am glad to see a couple so close!

    So, the smiling project: I read this awesome book, “The Power of Appreciation” a while ago, and one tip I remembered was to thank and compliment a worker at a place you go to, like the store or your office. More or less like what you guys have been talking about here, but it’s good; I took the advice and thanked the custodian, at the Goodwill Center where I take classes, for cleaning up the place while he was sweeping outside. He gave me a slightly surprised and appreciative reaction, and I later even found out that the guy rides there on his bicycle every day (he’s an older guy too, so I hope his insurance and everything are ok). What a sport! Of course I’m lucky to live in the South, where it’s not that hard to get the young cashier at Save-A-Lot to tell you about the joke she and a co-worker are pulling on another employee, and where it’s not unusual, in a wonderful way, for a friendly stranger to walk up to you because she heard you talk about a great Simpson’s episode, and share a laugh about it 🙂

    I think you’ll do well in your venture. One guaranteed way to get a smile is to share that hilarious Mayan cartoon!

  3. It’s fun when the waiter says, “I’m Bryan and I’ll be your waiter.” We like to answer, “We’re Nancy and Johnny and we’ll be your customers.” 🙂

  4. Another great idea I was just introduced to is always use your servers name when you talk with them. I always try to be nice and thankful for their service and although not rich try to tip well especially in low end restaurants. I have never been a waitstaff but it looks like a really tough job. A friend demonstrated the name idea and I was amazed at how happy it made the waitress. Smile and name if you can. I am trying to do it even at the grocery store, pharmacy, etc.

    1. Calling folks by name – yes! GREAT suggestion and something I’ve never tried. Can’t wait to give it a spin! And you’re right about tipping, waiting on tables is a really challenging job – and we love rewarding with big fat tips!

  5. None of us is perfect, in fact we all screw up every now and then. The worst is when someone else is watching. My favorite ‘smile maker’ is when I notice someone else in distress after just flubbing something and letting them know something like ‘glad I’m not the only one who’s ever done that’. Works every time.

    Will be looking forward to your sharing of smiles along the way. Thanks!

  6. You will be amazed at how sunshiny life becomes! So proud of you! And, btw…count ten smiles for this post from me. 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

    1. Wow! Now I have back up for any eye rolling I may cause! I’ll just come back to your comment and grab a smile or two!

  7. Sounds like a good plan. I hope I can get through a Mid-Atlantic US winter without becoming crabby. I know the hours of sunlight are now increasing, but there is just something about February that unhinges my best intentions. Today, I held open and doors and smiled at people which was well received. Happy New Year.
    PS: One resolution is to get my blog “Boomeresque” off the ground.

    1. LOVE the opening doors for people idea! It’s now in the mix! Yes, I get your February blues, winter is always tolerable for me-until the Holidays are over. Let us know when you project is ready for viewing! -VeronIca

  8. Love your points. Being proactive to offer help, expressing thanks For… and expressing appreciation ring loud for me.
    Thanks for some nice ways to start the year off to a Good start.

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