Sorry that I haven’t updated my blog recently, but I’ve been in NY for the last 2 ½ weeks attending a Book Expo and spending time with my family in Upstate NY.
Although I wasn’t able to maintain my normal workout regimen while in NY (45 minutes cardio and 15 minutes on upper body machines), I did manage to take some long, brisk walks. My favorite place to walk was around a trail that circles North Ponds Park in Webster, NY (a suburb of Rochester). The path is a mile long and depending on how I felt I would do 2 to 4 miles. I noticed something interesting as I passed people on the path: Nearly everyone I encountered said, “Good morning,” or “Hello,” or “Have a good day,” or some other friendly greeting.
Now you might not think that this behavior is out of the ordinary; after all, greeting people is merely an act of courtesy. But in contrast to what I’ve experienced living in San Diego since 1993, frankly, I was stunned. I may not represent the average resident of San Diego, but my experience while walking anywhere and passing people is that no one even makes eye contact let alone greets you. Everyone seems so guarded. It’s as if they are suspicious that a smile or greeting comes with an ulterior motive.
This got me thinking about the world in general—the hostility, the lack of courtesy, the inability to offer a gesture of friendliness. What happens in Saint Louis, Rome, Dallas, or London, when people pass each other on the streets? In some cities, of course, people do generally greet each other. But I feel reasonably sure that in most instances, people worldwide act the way they do in San Diego. We all live within our comfort zones, shielding ourselves from the rest of the world. What can we do to change this situation?
For one, each of us can take the lead and take it upon ourselves to greet everyone we pass with a smile and a hello. Not just when we’re jogging around a park or riding along a bike path. I’m talking about passing people in a shopping mall, parking lot, grocery store, or movie theater. How much might it impact the entire world if everyone greeted everyone else?
I, for one, am going to conduct a little experiment starting today. I’m making a commitment to greet everyone I pass in some friendly way. And who knows. Maybe this behavior might be contagious. If enough people adopted this philosophy, imagine the possible impact on the world.