Thursday, 24 April 2008

"Guerrilla" Smiling ?

A few days ago Gord and I were talking about how much just smiling at someone can really make a big difference to the smiler and the smile-ee. It's amazing how the simple act of smiling can change everything in an instant. Smiling and mouthing "sorry!" when you accidentally cut someone off in traffic can diffuse an potentially ugly road-rage situation. Smiling and waving at your neighbor increases 'community' sentiment, even if you don't say a word. When we were talking about this, I thought about the phrase "guerrilla gardening" - the practice where people go ahead and plant flowers and edible plants on vacant lots, boulevards, or wherever a bit of dirt is available. (Cluttercut has blogged about this recently.) It occurred to me that we could all be practicing "guerrilla smiling" as well!

Lately I've been waving and smiling at oncoming drivers on the country roads I take on my way into work every morning. When we first moved here, almost everyone waved at everyone else this way, but it has sort of dropped off over the past couple of years, as more people moved into the new acreages that were being built. I've decided to start doing it again, because it's nice and I like it.

So, this morning I just raised my two fingers in a peace-sign looking greeting and the lady in the car coming towards me broke into a big grin! I have no idea who she is, but I know that both she and I felt better in that moment than we did the moment before! I did the same thing to the guy who drove by me in a pickup truck, and he didn't smile or wave back, but he did a bit of a double take as he was maybe thinking, "hey, did you just wave at me?" I'm not sure if he was happier after I waved or not, but he was surely more curious!

Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh really sums this up nicely when he says,

If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work. "

Smiling for peace - that's something we all can do!

Picture courtesy this flickr site. Nose-touching not required in guerrilla smiling!


Simply Authentic said...

Smiling for peace-i love that! It's so true how much a smile can change things. I don't know how many times when I've been in a bad mood with a scowl random people drive or walk by me and tell me to smile. Plus a direct smile when someone least expects it can really impact another. And a smile and polite conversation can do wonders.....Thanks for the reminder Theresa!

Heather said...

That's one of my favorite quotes! And a great post I might add.

creme brulee aka GH said...

hi theresa,

while taking pictures from a narrow bridge I smiled at each driver that approached as i stepped to the side; a smile and wave was returned every time and I know i felt better for it.

Cheers, GAH

Theresa said...

Sometimes, being nice feels almost selfish, because I'm sure I get just as much benefit out of it, if not more, than the person I'm smiling at!

green with a gun said...

I always smile at pretty women I see. Does that count?

Theresa said...

Oh, for sure. I'm sure they're even prettier when they smile back!

Hippie Girl said...

I have been definately doing this lately - smiling at people that I pass by on my bike or when walking. Just seeing them smile back is uplifting to my spirits. I hope it has the same effect on them.