STRONGER TOGETHER: Sharing the case for kindness on World Smile Day

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"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses the importance of kindness.  

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

When it takes about three positive thoughts to outweigh a negative one, it can seem like an uphill battle to create a positive life. But it’s a battle worth fighting when we realise how incredibly easy it is to bring positivity and kindness to someone’s day.

Often the kindest gestures aren’t ones of grand expense, nor do they take up a lot of time.

Simple acts of kindness like a smile and ‘good morning’, or a nod to a stranger you walk past can make the world of difference in someone’s day.

And with October 7, marking World Smile Day why not spread a little kindness?

This event comes after Harvey Ball, the artist who created the smiley face in 1963, saw the over-commercialised use of the artwork and wanted a day dedicated to smiling and acts of kindness.

Smiling is a social contagion. It can have a ripple effect of positivity, even in a brief or fleeting moment.

When I go for a morning walk, my intention is to achieve eye contact, smile and say good morning to every person who I see.

Sure, I have people who look away or just look at me like ‘it’s way too early for good mornings, stop talking to me’, but that’s okay.

Since making this a routine, some of those people who used to look away, now smile and say hello before I do. 

For some people though, this passing interaction may be the only one they have that day. You could be the only person that makes eye contact and smiles and says hello to them all day.

I believe it’s these small gestures which promote feelings of inclusion and community.

The way you show up, effects people. A study by Eric Wesselman found people given an air gaze (no eye contact) from a stranger felt significantly more disconnected than those who received eye contact.

Every day we have an impact on people, on our family, our work colleagues, friends, strangers that we cross paths with, so why not make it a kind one?

Please note: This website may contain references to, or feature images, videos, and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have passed away.

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