Day 1: There is a saying that a smile always confuses an approaching frown. On the first day of my kindness journey this adage certainly seems fitting. My task was simple enough: to make a conscious effort to smile and say hello to people. The thing is, in a city like Sydney its a bit of a struggle to get most people just to make eye contact. Even those that do seem very disconcerted when I smile, and positively startled when I attempt a cheery “Good morning!”
However, the few people that returned my greetings whole-heartedly provided interesting conversations and wonderfully positive energy that I otherwise would have missed out on completely. They included: a lovely girl at the gym (who felt that pilates was the absolute best way to start a Tuesday), a guy at the gym (who I’m fairly sure thought I was hitting on him because why else would I be saying hello to a stranger at 7am??), the cleaner in our building (who was happy it was raining as it’s good for the plants), a young mother at the supermarket (who informed me the plums were delicious at the moment) and a lady at the bus stop (who pointed out a pair of canoodling cockatoos on the power lines and told me that they use the feathers on their heads to communicate with each other).
Most memorable, though, was the incredibly cheerful bus driver I encountered. To everyone entering the bus exclaimed: “Good morning, how are you today?” and to everyone leaving: “Thankyou! Have a fantastic day!” Most people seemed unsure about how to respond, but as I looked around I could see several passengers smiling to themselves. I noticed as the bus journey went on his greetings became a little less enthusiastic. I understood; its tiring to maintain constant cheeriness without getting much in return. As the bus approached my stop I decided I had to say something to let him know his kindness was appreciated. I thanked him for his positivity, told him it was a really nice way start to the day and I was sure he brightened up more people’s mornings than he realised. He smiled widely and said, “I do try. There’s enough miserable drivers out there, but trust me, there are a few happy ones that pop up every now and again too.”
Now, given that it was the kindness of a bus driver that somewhat inspired this whole project (see ‘Can kindness be powerful?’), if my experience today isn’t some kind of karmic sign, I don’t know what is.