Hey there and happy Thursday! It’s time to think out loud again and because everybody wants to be happy that’s what we’re going to chat about today. A seemingly unsual way to find happiness-inducers in the most random places.
While browsing Mind Body Green recently I came across a short note saying small talk with strangers could make you happier. It didn’t catch my eye because it was news to me but actually as it’s something I’ve been doing for years and now there apparently is scientific proof of it, too.
I’ve mentioned before how I believe in destiny. I’m convinced it wasn’t coincidence I walked to the little open public book case located around my corner at that very moment another lady was scouring the display. Placing the book into the shelf I’d noticed a copy of a book I’d read and enjoyed a while back [Enzo by Garth Stein if you’re curious*]. Noticing her searching glace I spontaneously offered to give a recommendation. She was happily surprised and encouraged me to tell her. We ended up chatting about books for a while before we parted ways again – her with a new book she’ll hopefully enjoy as much as I did.
Despite usually not being the feel comfortable entering a room of strangers on a party I oddly enjoy chatting with strangers. The encounter I mentioned above will probably become one of my favourites. In case youre wondering: another one in that category was when I interned in Hamburg and talked to a blind man on multiple occasions. I’m not quite sure how we first got into a conversation but he was on his way to the theatre and we spent the time until I had to leave the subway chatting about favourite theatre plays.
Another time a random conversation turned out to be very lucky was on a train once more. I overheard two girls talking about vegan cheese, chimed in and – long story short here – found out one of them was about to move to the city I lived in. She wasn’t too happy about it but we exchanged numbers and have met several times since. At first for a little exploration of the vegan shopping and eating opportunities but also at the cinema or theatre. Because diets don’t define people.
Great places to meet others:
– the gym: You already have the common topic of fitness but by just [politely] chiming in on others’ conversations or even commenting on a completely random topic like the weather [you’d be surprised by some of the fun conversations I had starting with this one!]…
– subways/ trains/ busses: Especially if it’s a longer journey people traveling alone might actually be happier to have a conversation than you’d probably guess. Also a great place to start out if you haven’t talked up strangers before because – on short journeys – you have the bonus of leaving soon after any awkward conversations and never seeing the person again.
– the supermarket: Nobody enjoys waiting in those busy ‘rush hours’ when half of the city is running errands. Why not strike a conversation with the old woman in front of you? Or the mum waiting in the opposite line? She might be happy for you distracting her little one from begging for all the sweets at the check-out [in most cases they really are].
You might not always lead deep conversations debating philosphical questions in all or any of these cases above. But I believe we [should] have a space in our brains for random bits and pieces of ‘just because’ information. Knowing the name of the dog an old man is walking along the street around the corner of my apartment every night, a random girl at the gym’s unusual place to find running tights [thanks for that!] or the names of the supermarket cashier’s daughters? It’s not vital information for my life but just makes my environement feel a little less ‘strange’ and anonymus. Plus it will make both sides happier because that’s what connecting with others does. We weren’t meant to be lonely.
If the idea of connecting with strangers still seems, well, strange to you think about it this way: What else is it we’re doing in the blog world every day?! Ask a blogger if connecting with others online makes them happy and you will hardly hear a negation. From book recommendations [like the one above*] to more serious conversations about topics I hadn’t even talked about with friends or family before – I’ve had awesome conversations with former strangers now friends [or blends if you will]. Forget what mum told you as a child and go talk to strangers*. Or: potential friends to be.
*We’re obviously excluding any kinds of scary or pervert people waiting for you in some dark corners. Why are you even hanging around there??
Happy Thursday and happy talking to strangers!
Happiness-inducing today: An e-mail I received earlier today.
Stay in touch!
No questions today but I’m curious to hear any thoughts, experiences or advice you have on the topic!