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Sunday, June 13, 2010

On Saying Hello

Yesterday I was mowing my lawn (and getting mad at myself for not posting in a while), when a man walked by. I waved hello to him, he waved back, I continued mowing the lawn, he kept walking, and I had an idea for a post.

We always downplay the importance of saying hello to others, or even the simple importance of being courteous. We often just pass by people and never acknowledge them, and I used to do the same thing until a man came to my school quite a few years ago and shared us a story with us.

Some time ago, a man committed suicide by jumping off of the Golden Gate bridge. People were shocked that he would do such a thing, but he was depressed and felt separated from the world. In a note he left behind, he explained how he was going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiled at him or said hello, he would turn around and go home. Just one person. Nevertheless, this never happened, and he jumped off.

I'm not saying that a person's life depends on you greeting him or her or smiling. This of course is almost never the case. Regardless, the effect that smiling or greeting someone can have is tremendous. Perhaps your courtesy could be a positive aspect of an otherwise dismal day. For example, I stopped at a food store today while leaving work to grab something small to eat, and a friend of mine was working there (I had no idea he worked there). As I was about to pay, he said, "Don't worry about it," and gave a donut to me for free. It was a small gesture, but it was really uplifting given the rainy weather and how exhausted I felt. This little gesture really had a larger effect on me.

So, say hello! Be friendly! When I go running, I greet everyone I can. It really throws people off guard (in a good way - they almost always react positively). Just a simple "Hey" or "Hi" will suffice. Your small gesture could mean the world to someone.

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