I try to exercise every day, ideally something outdoors if weather allows. The “dreadmill” works in a pinch, but I’d much rather head outside for a walk/run or a bike ride. The fresh air benefit is pretty hard to top, especially now that we live in this weird, quarantined, “Social Distance” world.
Last night I was trekking along at my usual snail’s running pace, and a man flew past me going the other direction. I’ve found that most runners wave a little “Hello” gesture when passing each other. Just a kind acknowledgement of, “Good morning” or “Hey there.” Nothing overt, just a little subtle something.
But this guy… this guy! He gave me a big “thumbs up” sign. Like a huge, obvious-gesture-thumbs-up! With a big grin on his face. Without speaking, it was as if he was saying, “Heck YES! We’re not gonna let fear rule OUR day, we’re out here gettin’ it DONE!”
Long after he was gone (and he was very quickly gone, since he was a hare and I’m a tortoise), I was still smiling. And thinking to myself what a nice gesture that was. A complete stranger, out for his (speedy) evening run. He had tossed certain social norms out the window by greeting me with an over-the-top, wonderful, friendly thumbs up. And it pretty much made my day.
Then this morning I headed out for a walk with my dog Edgar. He’s a good-looking German Shepherd (if I do say so myself) and people often comment or ask questions about him. We were walking on a path in the park across the street, when a young guy passed us going the other direction. This guy didn’t nod or say hello. No, he flashed a big smile and a “shaka” sign (sometimes known as “hang loose” or a “peace sign.”) It was terrific! Again, a seemingly-small gesture from a complete stranger really lifted my spirits.
I guess I’m telling you this to make the point that sure, being polite and friendly to others is always the right thing to do. And even more so in this current world we live in, in which people are feeling scared, depressed, alone, angry, or worse. But beyond that – beyond what is the “right” thing to do – is the positive impact you may be making on another human being. A person who may be having a horrible day. A person who is scared of getting sick, or who is worried about a sick friend or family member. A struggling person with three young kids at home. A person who has no health insurance or who has been laid off. That friendly “hello” or “thumbs up” or “peace sign” that you give a stranger could make their entire day. It could give them hope.
The impression we make on others can be very impactful. Now more than ever before. So please, let’s give a big thumbs up for kindness.