“Have a great day.”
“Thanks, you too.”
“Have a good one.”
They are pleasantries, exchanged with co-workers, acquaintances, strangers you happen to make eye-contact with while waiting in line. Do they mean anything? Do they put good vibes out in the universe? Do they buoy us up, make us happier?
Of course, it’s much more pleasant to the ear to hear “Have a great day” than “Have a lousy day.” But, why do we feel compelled to say it, and then reciprocate it?
Has too much cynicism invaded my soul that I’m even questioning this innocuous greeting? I don’t think so. I just think a lot, wonder a lot, question a lot. I think it’s harmless, a genial habit; I just wonder if that exchange has any long-reaching effects.
People are becoming increasingly alienated from each other. We drive around in our own little bubbles. We walk around with ear buds protruding from our ears, talking to or listening to something that others can’t hear. Outside of the car, we’re still within our own personal bubble. There are fewer human connections being made; yet, we’re wishing people a good day. People we don’t know.
Do we mean it? Do we just say it because we think it’s the right thing to do? Or, is there a larger purpose?
I can’t change the world. Change, as in end all senseless killing, make sure all children are safe, well-fed, housed, and loved. I can make changes, though. Small changes.
Maybe it’s like putting together a two-thousand piece puzzle. You dump all the pieces out of the box, and it can be overwhelming. Where do we start? Well, the border; start with the pieces with flat sides. Maybe your puzzle has a red and white hot air balloon. Move on to the balloon. You complete the puzzle little by little, piece by piece. And maybe that’s how human kindness spreads.
I take my cafe mocha from the harried barista, offer a “thank you,” and wish her a good day. Maybe she pauses a minute, maybe the beginnings of a smile escape from the corners of her mouth. Maybe later she’ll notice someone in line that looks despondent, maybe she’ll linger when she hands over the cappuccino, make eye contact, and wish that patron a nice day.
Maybe that’s how it starts.
If not, then there was no harm done. I’ve tried. And like I always told my students, all you can do is try your best.