I will start by clarifying that I am not an expert on human emotions or reactions. I’m neither a trained psychologist, scientist, nor researcher in these areas. However, I do love to contemplate the emotions and engagements of people.
A few weeks ago I wrote about my first week in Hot Springs. Feel free to click the link, and read. The short version is that everyone here is as friendly as I remember from my stay in 2019. In the three weeks since I posted that article, the theme of general kindness continues. Pick a location- gym, racetrack, grocery store, restaurant, and more- everyone is unbelievably friendly and warm.
In our time here what I’ve observed about myself is that this general sense of congeniality has encouraged me to be more conversational and cordial when I’m out in public. Between having lived in New England, where people aren’t this friendly, and sometimes leaning toward shy, I am oft to keep my head down and hurry about my day.
Being here in Hot Springs and feeling so welcomed has made me want to be part of that community. Rather than looking toward the ground as I walk, I make eye contact far more often. This eye contact is accompanied by a smile and greeting. Even better, these greetings are returned with a smile and true response.
Although these are brief encounters, they really can do much to affect your mood. Even if I’m out and already in good spirits, being welcomed in such a warm manner just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. It’s like I’ve been wrapped in this blanket of camaraderie.
All of this brings me to my thinking that friendliness begets more friendliness. It may sound corny, but when you smile directly at someone, it makes both of you feel happier. If that smile spreads to more people, you can create this giant community of people who are happy. That’s what Hot Springs feels like. And honestly I think it’s pretty much a good portion of the south. Having now driven to southern Alabama and back, I can say that all the people I met along the way were incredibly friendly.
So, if you want to try and build this same community of happiness, start with one smile and genuine greeting. Just a simple, “Good morning!” might be enough to spark the chain of events. Give it a try, and see if you, too, can be a person whose friendliness begets the friendliness of another.