Good News: Smiling at Strangers; Assisting rather than Competing

Sometimes we just need to focus on what’s right with the world. Here are two stories that cheered me up recently.

• Smiling at Strangers

I learned this “trick” (because smiling tricks the heart into opening, wide, briefly, and then for longer and longer periods, the more one does it) back when I was a furious young woman, confused, in a difficult marriage, wondering what had happened to my “real life,” walking the cobbled streets of Cambridge, Massachusetts with two young sons in a stroller. An old woman approached from the other direction. She looked scared and dispirited. Suddenly, grace descended. I abruptly slowed my forward march, and surprised myself by giving her an encouraging smile as we crossed each other’s paths. And what happened next was the most important part of that scenario: I noticed, I actually noticed, a larger part of me witnessed, that our fleeting, smiling connection had lifted my heart, my spirits. I no longer felt so alone. From that moment on, I have been smiling at/with “strangers.”


• A Small Good Thing

by Abby Zimet

Okay, so it doesn’t change Wisconsin and it shouldn’t make the news in the first place, but still: Here’s Ohio high-school runner Meghan Vogel, having already won the 1,600-meter and next running the 3,200-meter, carrying competitor Arden McMath across the finish line after McMath collapsed. As long-distance runners (and bipeds), she said, “We’re all in it together.”


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