Over the last few years, the term “friends with benefits” has become fairly common. Although, I think its meaning could be tweaked a little.
I have been blessed in this life to have many friends, and it seems with every passing day I meet another one, sometimes more than one. This usually happens as a result of disobeying my parents’ instructions to not talk to strangers. It seems that no matter where I go, I can always find something to talk about with someone I’ve never met before.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to meet several new people in a short amount of time. Each one of them was uniquely different, with a special perspective on life, work, and play.
I met a man who was originally from Boston, Massachusetts who’d lived in the south for thirty years. His accent was still as thick as the day he’d left New England. I met another guy who wore a fedora, and who was considering becoming a teacher after running his own business for several years. I met a woman who was so interesting, I ended up talking with her until almost one in the morning on a Wednesday night. There were others too. A guidance counselor like me, shared her pad thai so I could decide if I should order it from the Asian restaurant. I spoke with another woman who is an aspiring writer. She told me about how she is studying journalism, and showed me her blog.
The reason I’m talking about all of this is because it seems that everywhere I go, I tend to make friends with people. Bragging? No. You can do it too, no matter how shy you might be.
But how? And why would you want to?
The first part is easy. When I was sixteen years old, someone told me that I walked with my head down a lot. They were right, by the way. I always kept my head down because I didn’t want to make eye contact with other people, especially women. I figured they didn’t want to have anything to do with me so why bother. If I kept my eyes on the ground, I would at least not see someone beautiful and be disappointed when they walked by without noticing me.
When I explained this to my friend, they told me that by keeping my head down, I’m missing out on all the wonderful things going on in the world around us. They also told me that the only way to start meeting people was to pick my head up and start smiling at everyone.
It’s an awkward thing to do if you haven’t done it before. Imagine, you’re walking through the mall, smiling and nodding at everyone you pass. Does that make you uncomfortable?
It used to make me squeamish. Now, however, I smile at everyone I pass. Not only that, the simple action of smiling and nodding at people, bidding them good day, has opened up my ability to strike up a conversation with a completely anonymous stranger.
But what’s the benefit of that?
Yeah, that’s the second question. Right?
It’s really simple. The more people you meet and engage with, the better your perspective of your own life will be. You can glean amazing ideas, thoughts, and innovations from the strangers around you. You can learn about their passions, dreams, and ideals, and through all that you can find a deeper sense of your true self.
I won’t go on pounding this idea. I think I’ve made my point and you have a life to get back to. The next time you’re out in a public place, try giving a friendly smile or a nod to someone you pass, and see how it opens up your world. You might make them feel better, and you may also crack open a world of potential inside of you.
Can you do it? Do you already do this? Tell me about it in the comments. And feel free to share this on Facebook or Twitter. You too Google +ers.