“Community connectedness is not just about warm fuzzy tales of civic triumph. In measurable and well-documented ways, social capital makes an enormous difference in our lives…Social capital makes us smarter, healthier, safer, richer, and better able to govern a just and stable democracy.”
- Robert D. Putnam
Most people have experienced many similar moments. For example, we all probably experienced a moment when you were walking down the street then you lock eyes with a stranger and smile at each other. We probably also experienced a brief conversation with someone in a line, at a restaurant, or at any public space and that interaction brought a smile to each party. These small moments can be easy to forget and easy to overlook but, for just one second two different worlds become one, and then they quickly disperse. That moment has a lot of magic though and can create something really beautiful.
Any moment that one person interacts with another has the potential to impact the course of their day in a good or bad way. Cutting someone off, cursing out someone, being rude to hospitality workers, or being ungrateful can have a negative impact on someone's day or life. No one knows what another person is going through and channeling your anger or frustration to a stranger might also deeply affect them. At the same time, letting someone go in front of you, recognize that someone might need the seat on the train more than you, being nice to your server, being nice to your customer, and practicing gratitude (those good ol' please and thank yous) can make someone's day more than you know.
I personally try to lead with kindness wherever I go and I know that I am imperfect and I can slip up but, recently the magic of these moments has been more apparent to me as the world starts to open back up. One example, I was working as a beertender and a couple came in and I welcomed them in and helped them find the right beer for them. Throughout their experience with the company, I made sure to smile (under the mask) and be inviting. The best part is that they reciprocated that energy. At the end of their visit, they indicated that the interactions we had made their day. Another moment was when I was serving a person and a conversation sparked around books. We chatted for a bit and exchanged basic information about our lives but, it appeared to make a small difference on their Sunday. Finally, I was in a grocery store buying wine when someone saw me wearing an Ohio sweatshirt and the cashier happened to also be from Ohio. This struck a conversation making my day and I hope it made their day too. All of these interactions are small yet, I remember them.
The thing is, the small moments and small interactions with strangers hold so much magic. The feeling of connection is important and when people find connection, even for a moment, can alter their mood and create a memory. I might not remember all of these moments in a few years but, for a day or so I could think about that interaction and smile.
Creating a better world can look like fighting for those big issues that are constantly being discussed but, it can also start with those small interactions. Making a stranger's day can have a big impact because we don't know who that person is. Kindness can create a snowball effect and that spread kindness around the world. I know that my goal is to help create a global community and help create change but, I also know those small interactions are just as important. Don't forget how far your kindness can go when interacting with a stranger and who knows what kind of positive impact that can have.
*Working at Craft + Carry. Here I get to have those small interactions that can make a difference.