Lessons from Apartment Living, #1: As we have gotten to know our neighbors, I have come to realize the power of a simple smile.
Our apartment complex is fairly large, which means we don’t (and won’t) know all our neighbors. However, we cross paths with a lot of them throughout the day: taking out the trash, walking the dog, lounging at the pool, carrying groceries from the car. It’s hard to know who is a resident or a stranger, a friend or a threat. Since privacy and personal space are already at a premium, it would be easy to avoid eye contact and just do our own thing.
However, I am discovering how quickly a smile can break down social walls. I don’t need to say anything; I just need to look at the person with a sincere smile. Every single time, the other person’s face softens and they return the favor, perhaps with a nod or a kind “hello.” A smile lets them know that I’m “OK” and not a threat, and that I think they’re OK too.
The next time you’re surrounded by people — at the mall, in a city, in the halls at church — pay attention to what you are communicating with your expression, and don’t forget the power of a sincere smile.