Eye Contact and a Smile: Kindness Matters

It only takes a few seconds to show someone you care.

A few weeks ago, I placed a Nick’s Network of Hope card in the train station. I should have put many cards there, but that day for some reason I just left one. A 58-year-old man picked up that card and emailed me a few days later. He said he found it interesting that I was a lawyer doing this type of work and asked for some information about peer groups in the area.

Something this man told me within our exchange of emails that followed moved me so much, I had to write about it. Deep in our discussion, I asked him if he believed in a Higher Power. He told me he went into a church on Mother’s Day. Earlier, he shared that he had no living family members, so I assume he was going to mass to honor his deceased mother. The greeters there didn’t make eye contact with him, and no one said a word to him. So he turned around and walked out feeling like nobody even cared that he left. Then he shared with me, almost apologetically, that he is obese and is missing teeth.

After consoling this kind man, he shared more about his difficult life and how he attempted to end it dozens of times. He is struggling and doing everything he can to continue in this world. He is seeking counseling, taking medications, and reaching out to find support groups. This is a good man, a very good man.

Mother’s Day was probably even a little harder than all of his other difficult days because he was remembering his mother who was no longer here to comfort him in the special ways that mothers do. He was hurting. What if one of those people had looked past his weight and dental problems and greeted him with a smile and a handshake? Didn’t he deserve to have someone look into his eyes and make him feel welcomed? Don’t we all deserve it? I’m in no way slamming organized religion. In fact, I’m a member who attends church weekly. What happened to this man could have happened anywhere—and does to many people way too often.

We all, myself included, must try to be more mindful about making eye contact with one another and giving each other a quick smile. We can’t look down or away if we see someone who doesn’t fit our mold of average, typical, or “normal” because doing so is not a subtle gesture. Recipients notice, especially those people who are already hurting because it is one more painful rejection. Looking people in the eyes and smiling only takes a few seconds and will do more good than we ever could imagine. ** (This post is made with that gentleman’s permission.)

Linda Pacha, Founder of Nick’s Network of Hope #kindness#kindnessmatters#randomactsofkindness#compassion#compassioncanchangetheworld#depression#suicide

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