Your Happiness: Talk to Strangers!

by Wendy, Retirement Enthusiast

Talk to strangers

Talk to strangers

I love this article from National Public Radio on "Want to feel happier today? Try talking to a stranger."

Most of us (this total introvert included) do anything to avoid a conversation with a stranger. What does society do, instead of polite chatter? We often pull out our trusty cell phones and pretend to be busy -- unapproachable.

WHY do we do that? Really sad. Really rather silly as very few are really THAT busy.

Cell phone gazing is a habit. It's even worse with younger generations who truly don't do well with face to face conversations. I know I seriously want to break this habit, as the admitted introvert, my phone has become my security blanket. It is!

A Canadian Psychologist asked people to go and get a cup of coffee in a busy coffee shop. Half went in and out quickly, the other half had a quick conversation with the cashier. They still got out quickly but chatted a moment over the transaction, I do this ALL the time.

Today, at Krogers getting groceries, and the woman in back of me had 6-8 large milks in her basket. I asked, "do you love milk?" She replied, "I'm making cheese, I make my own, like feta cheese." I was impressed, told her so, we were both smiling.

I also saw a girl push her dad to make him walk faster (on his phone, of course) as they walked in the parking lot. When I saw them inside, I mentioned it, laughing, "so cute!" The girl smiled, and the Dad thought about it for a sec then said "yes, she did!"

The psychologist suggests those who chatted a bit left the coffee shop in a better mood and had a better sense of community. Whether they strike up a short conversation at a dog park, shopping, in the parking lot, whatever -- it often brings a smile to someone's face (maybe both). Just sharing life for that brief moment.

Do you remember, a few years ago, when it was my thing to find stranded seniors in the grocery store parking lot in the winter? Sometimes, I'd park and find their car (while they stood with groceries). Other times, few groceries, so I loaded them into my trunk, got the senior into my car and drove them to their car... often on the completely opposite side of the parking lot! It was freezing out, they were "lost" and it took me all of five minutes to get them safe and secure back in their own vehicle. A few brief moments of interaction helped both the senior and felt good to my soul.

This post is not about Wendy -- I simply wanted to show a few examples of what an introvert can do, in a flash of time, to help and/or engage someone.

Some people have social anxiety. They really prefer to live life alone. But do they really or is it simply fear of rejection? Oddly enough these brief interactions are fun, pleasant, no obligations, just a quick pick-me-up on life. I love to comment on what someone is wearing, what they are buying, or even what just happened to me (something silly).

Personally, I don't need a long conversation. I don't care for an anxiety-producing lunch where you might feel a moment of silence is awkward. Yep, I'm weird, but if you've been around this site for a bit, you already knew that! GRIN!

I Love brief moments of connection where we can both walk away with a lighter heart. No one likes feeling invisible -- and especially as seniors, we often do feel invisible.

A brief smile, eye contact, and a nod, or a few simple words and a laugh -- that's all it takes to make someone's day better. They (and even you) may not realize it was that one tiny conversation that neither of you remembers -- but it can make a difference!

The Germans even have a term for it — wie Luft behandeln, which means "to be looked at as though air." Yuck -- I make it my daily mission, where ever I roam, to add a little random chatter to someone's day! I look for those opportunities, me playing the extravert for a brief moment in time!

Loneliness is a big deal with many seniors, admitted or not. Make it your mission to spread a tiny bit of happiness where you go. Put the cell phone away -- and look at people, smile, make a small comment. It's ok.

I'm not saying do this with everyone you run into -- I am saying that these small connections are what makes our worlds go round. Stay connected!

You have a voice, use it to compliment and engage people, if only for a few brief moments.

This will help your mood, and theirs too!


Comments for Your Happiness: Talk to Strangers!

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I did talk to a stranger
by: Craig/Minneapolis

Historically, I hadn't gone out of my way to chat up a stranger, but one afternoon this past spring I commented on the fine weather to a stranger at a bus stop. He looked at me, smiled, and jabbed what I took to be a gun in my ribs.
Long story short, I was robbed of $400 and my credit cards.

On the plus side, I'm sure that he was glad that I broke the ice and spoke to him, a total stranger. He probably told his pals about the friendly fellow he met that afternoon.

The hassle and inconvenience to me that followed the robbery created seriously dark ideation in my mind. It should go without saying that I have reverted to my earlier practice of not talking to strangers -- unless, of course, a cop is nearby.

Wendy: Yikes! Craig -- So sorry this happened to you!

So it is true what Mama said: Don't Talk to Strangers!

Bible on your phone
by: Leaking Ink


Just my opinion, but if she’s got a Bible on her phone, and ACTUALLY READS IT, Praise God!

God puts His Word in our hearts in many different ways. All of His ways are effective, though they may not look that way to an Onlooker. If that is how God is reaching her, please let it be.

Please don’t feel that she is being disrespectful in any way. It’s just a different way than perhaps you were brought up to do. Your way is good, and her way is good. Jesus says to "Come as you are" to Him...and that’s exactly what we need to do.

God bless.

phone in church
by: Laura in Vermont

Hi Sherry,

Never heard of that one before either. I think it's sad that this lady focuses so much on the phone, even if the Bible is in it, during church. Church does so much more than load you with Bible content!

Church services are a time of being with other people, getting close to God together.

More people should leave those cell phones somewhere else when they go to church. They're such a distraction from real life!

Phone in church
by: Joan

I don’t know if it’s right or not to look at your phone during church - especially if they are reading the Bible but why not just say I’m going to sit up front (or down back) and I’ll meet you after the service. Seems easy enough to just sit separately rather than argue with your friend.

by: Sherry/ NC

Have a smile and kind word to say everyday!

I have something I want to ask. I have a friend when she goes to church with me she turns her phone on and stares at it the whole service.

She never mentions why she is doing this so I said something about it. I told her it was inconsiderate for her to do so regarding the people around her and me too. She says she has downloaded the Bible on her phone and she is following along with the service. She never looks up. I don't approve. Disappointed.

Is this okay for her to do this? I have never seen anyone stare at their phone during a church service. I leave my phone in the car when I arrive at church.

Am I being a prude or "old fashioned" about this exercise?

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