by Scott Colby

Do you say “good morning” to strangers?

I went for a hike a couple of days before the 4th of July that took about 90 minutes, and passed a lot of people both on the way up and way down. I believe I said “good morning” to just about everyone I passed and in about 90% of the instances, I initiated it. There were several instances when I didn’t get a “good morning” back, or the other person appeared to want to avoid eye contact.

Ever since I took two trips to Guatemala in the summers of 2014 and 2015, where I witnessed how friendly the people were over there, always saying “buenos dias” with a smile, I’ve been very aware of the disconnect here in the United States.

I have a shirt that a friend gave me as a gift when she returned from a trip to South Africa. It says Sawabona on it. Sawabona is a greeting among tribes of Northern Natal, South Africa. It literally means “I see you” meaning I respect you and acknowledge you for who you are. People reply, “Sikbona (I am here) which means when you see me, it brings me into existence.

It feels like we live in a society where we are disconnected from each other. Yes, we stay connected on platforms like Facebook, but the human to human real life connections are lacking. That’s one of the reasons I like to send handwritten thank you cards. It’s a form of connecting with other people. It shows someone that they matter and are valued.

I think when you smile and say “good morning” to others, whether they are friends or strangers, you will make that other person feel seen. And that’s something we all desire – to be seen. Go ahead and give it a try the next time you pass a stranger. It will change their day and make you feel good, too.

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