Today, while I was making my purchase in a computer warehouse store, my husband and I had some friendly banter with the associate at the check out register. He thanked us for our purchase and wished us a good evening. When I was leaving, I told the cashier, “Merry Christmas!” and he said “Merry Christmas” back. As I walked further toward the door, I saw a fellow who was looking rather tired and seemed to be waiting for someone. He was wearing a lot of various buttons on his coat, some with gaming icons, political statements, phrases stating various sentiments (which I would not have agreed with or worn myself), and comic book or science fiction characters (some of those I might have worn). As I was passing by him, something made me slow down and deliberately look him in the eye, smile, and say, “Merry Christmas to you!” with genuineness. He smiled back and returned the greeting, “Merry Christmas to you, too!”

Too often, we let the differences between ourselves and other people become impenetrable barriers to communication and connection. We are afraid or even angry at people who are different than us. Why? A friendly smile, greeting, or “Thank you,” can have a positive effect on people; a simple friendly comment or smile can help the recipient realize that they are not alone in the world. You never know what impact a little friendliness can have on someone’s day. We are all human beings and we want to connect with others on a human level. Being kind involves getting outside of your little world and noticing the people around you—noticing in a kind and friendly way.

The world is full of unique people, but all of those different people are alike in more ways than we often realize. Kindness will focus on the things we have in common.

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