There is nothing more unapproachable than a glum cranky looking person. We see this a lot in young people who are intent on their electronic devices, but seniors often aren’t very friendly either. Why do we do it? People seem to have forgotten how to smile; they have forgotten how to be nice. Seniors get a lot of bad press. Typical stereotypes tell the world that we are senile, that we can’t remember things, that we are rigid, depressed and depressing, lonely and isolated. Well granted, if we buy into to all that we might not feel like smiling or being nice. The trouble with stereotypes is that if you hear them often enough you start to believe them, and pretty soon you become those people.
It is not that most folks don’t want to be nice. People simply get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday living that they forget to take the time to nod, or smile, or make themselves approachable. Since when have smart phones and other forms of electronic communication taken the place of the simple smile? I was actually appalled when I heard on the news this morning that airlines are planning on making cell phone use available during flights. Can you imagine being trapped next to someone yakking on their phones all the way across the country? Oh oh, there I go again…being cranky!
Let’s think about that for awhile. A smile is contagious. Let’s try by smiling more often, making eye contact, and calling people by name. Speak as if you think that person might have something worthwhile to say, thank them for their time, and don’t be so stingy with compliments. Let’s see if we can go out of our way to be nice. It could be an experiment.
I love Oprah magazine. In the latest edition (September 2012) the magazine (www.oprah.com/magazine) featured an article by Meredith Bryan called “How Can I Be Nice,” and it made me think. The author talks about how she lived in a busy city that was teeming with life. The city was also teeming with strangers and she didn’t know any of them. She didn’t speak to anyone that she didn’t know and she kept her eyes downcast when scurrying around. What does that say about her, what does it say about us? She decided to smile more and she discovered that she liked the way it made her feel. She liked it so much that she wrote an article so that she could share the feeling with her readers.
Shari Caudron (Workforce: March 2001) also wrote about how a smile can make your world shift gears. Feeling good and letting the world know that you feel good by treating it to a smile, does wonders for your attitude. A good attitude, she discovered, could change your world. She concluded by saying that if you smile the world smiles with you. Frown and you frown alone. Pretty profound don’t you think? Try to smile; you could be a good will ambassador for seniors everywhere. Being described as nice is one of the most meaningful descriptions that someone can make about you. It isn’t that most people don’t want to be nice, they have just forgotten how.