Changing The World One Smile At A Time

Julianne, the writer

By Julianne Wargren

When I was growing up, one of my mother’s favourite sayings was ‘honey catches more flies than vinegar.’ To which either my brother or I would inevitably reply ‘who wants to catch flies.’ Yet despite our childish derision, her words and their true intent remain with me still today.

In an age where service seems to be more often an idea rather than a reality it is all too easy to become justifiably frustrated with the people in our lives whose role we perceive as being to serve us. At least I know I’m guilty of this and I’m sure I’m not alone. Yet how often does expressing frustration result in a better service and how often does it just result in more frustration, along with a hefty rise in blood pressure?

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t expect the best. Of course we should. But we should also offer the best of ourselves to those around us. So I’m having a bad day, or even a bad week or month or year, I’m not going to make it any better by sharing my misery around. And I’ve learnt by trial and error, many times over, that getting upset with someone over bad service, no matter what they do to fix it, never results in me feeling better about myself.

The other day at the supermarket I decided to try a different approach. I watched as the checkout assistant became more and more frustrated by the customers in front of me and line behind me grew longer and long. When I got to the front of line, instead of complaining about the wait, I thanked the checkout assistant for being so patient with the other customers. You should have seen the size of the smile I got back. Even thinking about it now still makes a big grin sweep across my face. Suddenly she felt acknowledged, recognized, valued … all the things that we so sorely need but so rarely receive. Did I get any better service from her than the people in front of me? Who knows. Did I feel a whole heap better about my interaction with her? You better believe I did!!!

At the heart of this is our primal need to matter. The need that, in the time we walk this mortal path, we lay down lasting tracks that say to future generations ‘I was here and I made a difference.’ We are all aware how important inclusion is. How being the wallflower at a dance, or the person in the corner at a party or the last one picked for a team can destroy our self esteem. But recently I heard of a study that showed even acknowledgement by strangers can change for the better how we feel about our lives.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Zitona Qatar

Now I am making it my mission to change the world one smile at a time. It doesn’t take much, just smiling at random strangers I pass in the street. Saying hello to someone I pass on my morning walk. Smiling and thanking the person looking after the desk at the gym. Wishing the lady at the school crossing a great day. Thanking the bus driver as I jump off the bus. It takes so little effort, but it gives so much back to me. I feel good because I’m appreciating everything around me and the smiles and kind words that I get back every so often are an unexpected bonus.

So here is my challenge to you – join me in changing the world one smile at a time. Smile at a stranger, thank someone who is just doing their job and be amazed at how the world starts to feel like a better place.

And to get you started – here is your first random smile from me to you 🙂


To read more of Julianne’s work please visit her blog at : I blog therefore I am.

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46 Replies to “Changing The World One Smile At A Time”

  1. I have been practicing the smiles and a few words for some time now. I know it makes me feel a whole lot better. I especially try hard on days when I am feeling down. I think my grandkids raise their eyes when they are with me from embarrassment but who cares. One of my granddaughters said “that’s why I like old people they are always so friendly”. It just lifts a ton of bad feelings off of my chest. Keep the smiles going.

  2. This text brightened up my day,I like the way you think,happiness is hidden in small things,thank you,sending you smile,although you have a big collection of them 🙂 Keep collecting 🙂 🙂 🙂

    1. Im a teenager, I ride 10+miles on mountain unicycle while playing guitar and singing on my way wherever I go, to brighten people’s day and ALWAYS smile at everyone. I have found that some of the biggest things we will ever do in this life, are the smallest things 🙂 It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice. People have the idea that when things change, they will be happy… Wrong!! When you are happy, then things will change. And if you want to be happy, make someone else happy! If you want forgiveness, forgive! If you want to feel loved, love! Selflessness = happiness & selfishness always = sadness

      Thanks for your example! Lets change the world one Christ-like action at a time 😀


  3. I always do that and about %70 I get a smile or a kind behaviour back. It makes me feel good to make people smile and of course it feels good to be treated kindly.

  4. I’m so moved by your scribe, just love it! I too will join your plight in changing the world one smile at a time! Thank you 🙂

  5. I love this! It’s the philosophy of leaving people better than you found them! Every time you smile, you bring to life a place in someone’s heart!

  6. I am a waitress and I greet every table by saying hi and asking how they are doing and, let me just tell you, it makes my night when they reply that they’re doing well and then ask ME how I’M doing! It’s so damn easy to randomly be kind. I wish more people were!

  7. This is what I needed to get back on a positive track Thank you We are getting so selfish thinking everything must go around us…

  8. Thanks for your blog, I work in retail and I wait for people like you to come through my line. You made me smile just as big because of your words. Thank you for feeling the way you do, I truly wish there were more people like you. Thank you again.

  9. Hey ,,m on d same mission,,,,m a bank employee..i always try to treat every customer with a big smile on my face…even if m busy,,,or frustrated…because i believe that we should treat the people d same way we would like to be treated,,i dont get personal with them,,but like to listen them with patience,,evn if it takes few minutes…and the thing i love is ..their respond,,,When i see satisfaction on thier faces,,and when sm 1 says Thank you,,God Bless U,,with a smile,,it makes my day, 🙂 at that moment i forget all my frustration a
    nd tiredness…

  10. My Mom and I had the same mantra, and my kids had the same comeback as yours. We do know it’s true, Julianne. I’m so glad that you made that clerk’s day. It’s the least we can do. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Tereasa, I agree. I do the same things and have had the same reactions. Some customers tell me they let people go ahead of them to other clerks just so they can have me wait on them. A couple supervisors have said I take too long with customers, but that won’t deter me from giving excellent customer service. I try to remember that it may be the only pleasant interaction they have all day. Many customers say “You made my day!” Customers like that make my day, too. JW, Thank you for the post and pleasant comments.

  12. For a while now, I have wanted to get little “business cards” that simply say “Thank you for helping me” or “Thank you. You are a blessing.” Something nice and completely random. Get 250 of them and hand them out whenever you see someone who needs a boost, or has helped you and you want to make a difference in their lives. Put the date on the back, and have faith that things can change, slowly, but they can. Pay it forward! YEA!!
    When I move back home, I want to make this a priority. I have been living outside the U.S. for the last year and a half, and when I return to Wisconsin, I am going to do this. It’s about time! And if you’re wondering where the idea came from, it’s a God thing. 🙂

  13. I agree with you…nothing beats a smile and a kind word to brighten up the faces of people we meet each day! I value the kindness extended to me and will promise to be kind to those I meet! Nothing beats a genuine kind word…or a great big smile! Thanks!

  14. As a cashier, I can tell you that your attitude is greatly appreciated!! It goes both ways, too. I greet every customer with a big smile and a hello, even if I’m having a bad day. If they’ve had to wait, I thank them for their patience. I’ve seen frowns turn around just by acknowledging that. I feel that I need to treat them the way I would like to be treated. It’s only fair.
    I hope your message reaches many people. It’s just common decency, courtesy and we need more of that!!
    Thank you for sharing!! 😀

  15. I’m on the same mission! I’m trying to keep the courtesy of greeting one another alive – one smile at a time!

  16. I have to say that your absolutely correct, being nice and smiling at someone makes me feel better knowing that I have made someone’s day…:)

  17. I am a cashier and I always treat each customer as if they are the only one there, a lot are elderly. I always smile and ask how they are doing, if they pay with cash I always count their change back from the point of sell, that means a lot to them, that’s how I was raised, then I wish them a good day. I have one person in management who hovers over me and constantly complains that I am too slow and I am to “chatty”. I don’t get personal with the customers, I am patient and kind. No, I’m not perfect but I do my best to provide perfect customer service. She can’t continue to hover and complain, I’m not changing my ways. 🙂

    1. You are awesome. One in a million! I only wish there were more of you who were raised with morals and values to wait on everyone. Keep up the good work and I will also pay it forward! : )

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