Illustrative image. Image Credit: AP

In every walk of life, we come across people, our neighbours, the guard, the salesgirl at the supermarket, the cleaner etc. For a moment do we even contemplate, what kind of life they have? Have they had a good start to their day? Living in a building, one often uses the lift, where we meet other people. Does it take a massive effort like moving a mountain, to greet each other? One always likes to greet people, Good Morning, How are you, Hello, but some people just turn their faces away. I often wonder what makes people act this way. A mere ‘HELLO’ or ‘HI’ doesn’t harm anybody.

Just the other day a receptionist at an office was looking glum, but she kept looking at her nails. She had beautiful, long nails, painted green and had some artistic black motifs on each nail. I wished her good morning and I said, “Wow! I just love your nails.” To this she immediately replied, “Oh I got a pedicure after ages, I just love them”. I reiterated that they are really pretty. The smile on her face was something I remember even today. Then she broke into a sweet chat telling me that she has a busy schedule and how she sometimes doesn’t get enough time for herself. We often cut ourselves off thinking, “why bother”. I feel that a small gesture or token of appreciation keeps a person productive and instill a sense of well being.

Taxi drivers work hard and it must be boring for them driving people around. I feel if people talk to them, it would make their day. Once when I was riding in a taxi, I started chatting with the driver. The driver in fact started ranting about how some people misbehave. He kept saying “either people feel I am nothing or they feel they are too superior to talk to a low life like me”. Even after I reached my destination, the driver parked the car and vented out all his woes, telling me that he never came across a passenger who listens so patiently to his problems. He finally said “thank you” with a grin from ear to ear. I actually did nothing, I merely listened to him. This kind of an interaction increases the happy hormones — in the speaker as well as well as the listener.

Talking to anybody is not something like going for an interview, nobody is keeping a score or judging you. Sometimes people are shy inherently, but people who are vocal and still do not believe in even greeting, is something that makes me wonder “why?”. Nobody needs to spend money or toil hard, to greet, when one meets. They are depriving themselves of happiness by not smiling and greeting.

Once in a mall they were distributing balloons for free. One girl got two balloons and then she saw a little girl with none. She quickly gave one of the balloons to the little girl. The little girl jumped with joy, beaming. It was only a balloon.

They say that when ladies meet as a group, there is a positive change in their mood, thus increasing serotonin, making them happier.

Talking to friends does help, but why not talk to people whom you see daily but do not acknowledge. Complimenting a lady for her beautiful new haircut or telling her how nice the colour of her dress is, doesn’t belittle anyone. Just like the smell of perfume lingers on in a corridor, happiness persists.

We hesitate to take the first step to say hello but often we end up making a friend because we initiate a conversation.

Why is it that strangers come to rescue when there is an emergency or an accident? If woes draw people, shouldn’t happiness attract people too?

Anuradha Sharma is a freelancer based in Abu Dhabi