Do you believe in vibrations?
Do you believe in energy?
For everybody who knows me knows that I love seeing people happy. I personally don’t think that I just love seeing people happy. I think that I am, in a sense, addicted to seeing people happy. Just like people who are addicted to substances because of the feeling that it gives them, I am addicted to the feeling that I get when I am around happy people. Its an even greater feeling knowing that I am the one that put that smile on their face.
My addiction started a long time ago but there was one year in particular that something amazing hit me. A feeling that led to an idea that eventually turned into an action.
I was stationed in Hawaii on the island of Oahu in 2008. Moving there was a huge culture shock for me. Coming from a man who had never left the city of Tampa, Florida and had never been far from friends and family, it was really hard for me. To cope with being so far away and with no knowledge of the culture, no help, and now placed in a unit of “hard asses” that got their jollies off by making me feel as out of place as they could made things even harder.
Shortly after I arrived to the island, I was told that I would be joined with another unit that deployed shortly before my graduation of basic training and AIT. I went to Iraq and by the end of 2009, I grew comfortable with a lot of my brothers in arms and moved off post. If you haven’t ever been to Hawaii, you will quickly learn that there is a military installation for every military branch located on that single island.
So early mornings were extremely rough dealing with the traffic before the first formation. I would have to wake up at 3 am everyday to get to work on time and even then, sometimes I had to wake up even earlier to be able to find a good parking space. One thing about me back then was that I was never a morning person.
So for me to wake up I had to “fake the funk”! I would jam out in the car on the ride to work. I would jog to my quad after I parked a quarter mile away and then I would joke around until formation. All of that so I could eventually be awake before our PT session. Not everybody enjoyed it but I did notice that regardless of the frustration that they had for me, most people had smiles on their faces. That made me feel good to see. Everyday I would follow the same routine. I would happily say “Good morning!” and get a smile. It became a habit. Say “Good morning”, get a smile. Eventually when I was crossing the street, I would have people beat me to the punch screaming “GOOD MORNING RIVERA!!!!” and that made me feel even better.
Before I got out of the army, I made it a habit to run up to the third floor of my battalion and stand on the balcony and scream as loud as I could “GOOD MORNING E QUAD”. surely I would get a bunch of “F you Rivera!!! Its too early for this!!” all while having a smile on their faces. I started incorporating “Good mornings” with every interaction I had with people regardless of the time of day it was. I would make sure that the first encounter with an individual would start with saying “Good morning” and I would start every interaction with a smile.
One after I said “Good morning!” to a cashier at a grocery store. She looked up at me and had a smile on her face. She said “I think that you overslept because it is the afternoon. I then asked her what was the first thing that she did when I said “Good morning.”? She said that she was confused and looked at her watch to correct me. I giggled and said “No. You smiled!” What happened next changed my entire life. Tears bottled up in her eyes. I immediately felt like I did something wrong and I apologized.
She laughed and told me not to apologize. She told me that she had an extremely rough day and work was really making it worse and that this was the first time that she smiled all day. We talked for a few minutes and she felt safe enough to tell me that she has been going through a really bad depression because of things going on in her personal life and while at work, her managers have been treating her horribly. She said that she was beyond thankful and asked for a hug. I grabbed my groceries and told her that I hope she had a better rest of the day. I saw her many times since then at the same register and each time she would have the biggest smile on her face and would tell me “Good morning!” no matter what time of day it was.
We don’t know what people are going through. We don’t know what stresses that they have had throughout the day. We don’t know if somebody is going through a depression, just got laid off work, just lost a friend or family member or anything else that would cause pain to them and the last thing that I wanted to do was to add to that negative feeling.
Sure, I have the weird looks. I have the confused faces. Even the random looking at the wrist whether the individual had a watch on or not, but naturally they would all react with a smile. So regardless if the smile was intentional or not, I was still able to bring up a positive greeting. Ever since that realization, I have grown to actually embrace and invite talking to people, whether they are friends, family, associates, co-workers and especially strangers.
No matter what, I want any interaction with me to start off with a smile. Maybe giving somebody a reason to smile can possibly save a life. Who knows? Maybe I have already saved a life. There are endless ways of putting a smile on somebodies face. Maybe you can do the same. Find something that will always start an interaction with a smile and spread as many as you can because we all know that this world needs more happiness. More peace. I have been doing this since 2009 and out of all these years, I have only had 16 people NOT smile. That is a great number considering all the smiles I have created. It all starts by one, contagious SMILE!