Stories of Kindness from Around the World

Being "Present" and Spreading Smiles on the Train


--by NEWJA, posted Jan 3, 2010

I'm smiling happily and brightly, feeling grateful, standing in a packed local transit train during the afternoon rush hour in San Francisco.  Looking around, I notice that everyone looks so heavy and somber.  Then I say lightly and with a smile, "Everyone looks so serious." 

Several people nearby look at me blankly, and one person smiles.  Then I say "Come on guys, this is San Francisco!" 

Suddenly a few more smiles.  Someone who looked very somber moments before smiles and says, "It's worse in New York."  Another person smiles and says, "It's worse on the BART train (another transit service in San Francisco) too." 

Then I smile even bigger and say in a light tone, talking excitedly, "Well, I don't know much about that, but we gotta redouble our happiness."  Suddenly everyone smiles as we approach the next stop.  A few moments later, someone says, "Well, let's go out and spread it."  Looking over my shoulder, I see that everyone is smiling and I step off the train, filled with that familiar feeling of joy and gratitiude at the same time.  I'm a junkie for it.

A good friend of mine once said "The best gift we can give is the gift of our presence," and I took that to heart. 

I find that with that kind of practice, the minor incoveniences of life become like nothing. I don't even notice them.  In fact, I have gained 1,000 times more than I could ever lose, and I did it all just by giving the gift of my presence.  To the wonderful people who have taught me that, thank you so much.

The gift of our presence is the greatest gift a person can give, and it doesn't cost a cent.

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Readers Comments

RonWrite wrote: I'm fully with you--in the present!
susan wrote: I do that all the time especially with the elderly as until last week i was working with the elderly in the largest elderly residential home in my home town of malta (europe) and the only thing i used to ask of them was to give me one simple smile. At times it was quite difficult for them to understand what i meant or i was to gain from this small gesture but when they did actually smile they themselves changed their attitude and actually started enjoying themselves with the activity and entertainment provided. I confirm that smiling is the best potion ever and should be recommended as often as possible especially seeing the extreme violence and hatred we have pervading our shores everyday of our lives! Keep it up. Sue bharwani malta.
Jacqueline Ewe wrote: I feel you newja, i have the exact same thought in my mind when travelling on public transport. I too love to smile back at them and break the ice with those around me. Presence is a gift, as in a present. You gave a gift to everyone on that train that day. Well done!
luv4all wrote: Very simple and great idea to positively impact our environment.

Presence in true sense is so imp , thanks for bringing it up.
BumMiggity wrote: "the best gift we can give is the gift of our presence," well said!
bummiggity wrote: Nice!
Jeff wrote: They think the same thing here in the states. People will believe what they will and react how they react, let them have their reactions. I stand for love and hope anyway. I do this kind of stuff in some form almost every day and i get far more raised brows than smiles. But some people smile - those are the ones who get it and who were waiting for a little lightness.
Laura wrote: I wish you could do that in england - without people thinking that you're either weird or that you've got some mental disorder.
Jeff wrote: This event i wrote about here occurred in summer of 2008. Ah, a day in the life :) thanks all for the great comments, glad it has been enjoyed!

Allsmiley wrote: I like that- "we got to redouble our happiness". Thats very cute. I love am a "junkie" to for feeling gratitude and joy for others. If only everyone tried to do this! :))

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