Apr 1, 2013 by

          Today was a surprisingly good day. First, I finished work and headed to the gym without the urge to cry at the thought of the elliptical. (The elliptical and I mutually despise one another.) Not only did I not feel like crying, I smiled my way through my workout. I don’t even smile my way through not working out. Has an alternate universe’s version of me taken over my body? Is this an April Fools’ prank?

          April: “Maria, today you won’t be as unhappy as usual – Just joking! April Fools’!”

          Ef you, April.

          Being in a pleasant mood is not a normal occurrence for me, hence The Happiness Experiment. Today, though, I was in a good mood. It may be because I’ve thought a lot about my happiness experiment today, and I’m really excited to be making happiness a priority in my life.

          My uncharacteristically upbeat mood must have shown in my body language or something. Strangers helped and/or spoke to me today! Four of them! In the time span of an hour! I gave up being friendly and bubbly years ago, so this hasn’t happened to me in a long time. Something about me was approachable today.

          I first noticed it when I walked into Chorizo to order a burrito (this place serves the best fresh, healthy burritos in the GTA) and asked to pay part cash and part credit card. Cashiers tend to look at me like I’m crazy when I do this, probably due to the fact that the cash/credit split is always ridiculously random. I don’t make it easy by asking to pay $5 with cash and the rest on credit, like a normal person. Instead, I say something like, “Can I pay $8.95 with cash and $0.98 with credit?” Yes, I really did make this request today. I just don’t like to carry cash, so I always get rid of any cash that I have on me first when paying for something. Then, I turn to my credit card for the rest, so I can collect cash back. In this case, I was attempting to charge just under a dollar to my credit card. As one might expect, the machine would not accept my $0.98 payment via Visa. I was just about to put the entire amount on credit when the cashier pulled a dollar out of his pocket and added it to my $8.95, covering the remaining cost of the burrito. I was in such shock at this random act of kindness that I didn’t even have a chance to protest before he closed the cash register, smiled, and started on my order. Of course, I was sincerely thankful and told him so. I couldn’t believe how incredibly nice he was to me for no reason at all.

          My next encounter with a helpful stranger was ten minutes later at the gas station. After pumping my gas, I confirmed with the cashier that the entrance ramp onto the highway was just past the next set of lights. After hearing this, the guy behind me pitched in with more detailed directions for how to get onto the highway from where I was, sensing that I wasn’t familiar with the area. How nice!

          Lastly, on my way up to my apartment, the elevator stopped to pick up a couple with a dog. The dog rushed to sniff me. A little bit of background on me: I’m not an animal lover, yet I attract them like bees on honey. It may have been me getting acquainted with the strange feeling of not being sad, but something possessed me to compliment this couple’s dog, calling him tiny and cute. They were thrilled! They told me that their friends are always nagging them to put their dog on a diet. I smiled and confirmed, without any knowledge of dog nutrition, that they absolutely do not need to put their dog on a diet. They laughed and thanked me on behalf of their dog before exiting the elevator. Who knew such a simple comment could make other people so smiley?

          These four people don’t know it, but my short interactions with them positively impacted my day and inspired a blog post. This reminded me to be conscious of the fact that I’m always influencing the people around me, even if I don’t realize it. Simple acts, such as the way I present myself, whether I smile or not, or whether I walk with my head up or down, affect how others respond to me. My actions count, so I need to be more aware of them. Lesson learned: Tomorrow, I’ll attempt to smile again while I try not to die on the elliptical.

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