Waking up this morning I felt compelled to start being a little more aware of how much power we have over the happiness, attitude, and mental health of those around us. We have the ability to change someone’s day for the better or for the worse with one action, one word, one look.

It is so easy to get frustrated and caught up in our own struggles that sometimes, I admit, it is difficult to expend the energy needed to brighten someone else’s day. When we think of helping others we are often told that we need to take care of ourselves first. We need to think of our needs and by fulfilling those needs we are in a better position to help others. I believe that the two don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

There are small ways to help others, brighten their day, or at the very least, let them know that you see them. It’s a smile and a hello as someone passes. It is listening for only a few minutes to someone who has a story to tell. These small gestures will do more for our mental health than the energy expended by constantly keeping our head down or shrugging off anyone who may want just a few minutes of our time.

Story Time

I put this to work for me yesterday evening. We are always told at my job in retail that it is extremely important to greet the customer and engage with them so that they know that we are approachable and are willing to help. Many times this feels like a chore, like a distraction from the measurable parts of my job. Last night I held a little experiment. I decided that I would enjoy this aspect of my job. I would embrace it and for one night possibly sacrifice some efficiency to put this customer engagement high on the list of priorities. Guess what? My day went by faster. I was happier. I made meaningful, if not brief, connections with people. I also became more efficient. Things seemed to flow. I was no longer wasting energy trying to dodge questions or deal with the anxiety of the next productivity glitch caused by an interruption. It was a great night and I am hoping that the customers I interacted with left the store with just a little more happiness.

We need to challenge ourselves to be better. We need to move through life understanding that we have this awesome power to make a difference. It doesn’t cost anything to let others know that we are there and that we see them. They are not alone and we are approachable. I received two messages from friends in the past few days letting me know that they are there and that they value my friendship. It is mind-blowing how much of a difference those gestures made in my day. I know that I am not alone. That is an amazing gift that they gave me. I now want to give that gift to you.

I see you.

Let this be my opportunity to say that you matter. Your opinions matter. Your struggles are valid. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that they are not.