Random Conversations

Random Conversations & Happiness

Random Conversations & Happiness

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The New York Times started the new year with a 7-Day Happiness Challenge, which they describe as “simple steps for a joyful, more connected 2023.” Day 3 deeply resonated with me: ”Small Talk has Big Benefits.” I couldn’t agree more.

The Day 3 Challenge or learning opportunity in this series was to “chat up someone you don’t know” which may include a casual acquaintance as well as a total stranger. This exercise is not a challenge for me – it’s a way of life!

I’ve written about a wide array of random conversations over the almost two years I’ve been posting content. My intention has been to encourage people to build comfort speaking with each other in live, one-on-one conversations – something that has often devolved into a fractured skill. It can be easier to try this out with people we don’t know.

My random conversations can be as simple as a single comment accompanied with a smile. Dogs are an irresistible subject – I cannot pass by without at least waving to them and talking to their human(s).

In a slightly longer interaction, I remember commenting on the beauty of a woman’s earrings as we stood on a corner waiting for the traffic light to change. Her eyes lit up as she told me the story about them and the sharing of her joyful memory filled my heart.

My Recent Experience

A recent conversation with a stranger lasted much longer. It ended when my take-out order was ready, but I happily could have stayed longer.

This was a man whose size was initially intimidating. When he spoke however, kindness was all I heard – a true gentle giant. He was carrying a book and I asked him about it. He immediately shared the story of his search for it, which was what brought him to this neighborhood and, ultimately, this restaurant.

I asked what it was about this book that drew him to it. The depth of his answer, so easily shared, surprised me. He said he has been someone who reacts quickly, and he was drawn to learning how to pause and reflect before responding. This book had been recommended to help him get there.

We continued our conversation with him sharing lessons he learned from his father, as well as related insights he tries to instill in his children. What a remarkable man! His gentle demeanor, the depth of the feelings he shared with me, the kindness inherent in his words and actions all spoke to my heart.

I am honored and grateful that he trusted me with his thoughts and feelings, which resonated with importance as he spoke.

Moving Forward

The Day 3 Challenge references a recommendation from Bob Waldinger, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School:

“Seek out and notice opportunities for friendly moments of uplift.”

He went on to say that brief but warm exchanges can affect our mood and energy, and contribute to a greater sense of well-being. I can attest to that.

Are you willing to engage in a random conversation? The results just might surprise you.

Image by Neil Morrell from Pixabay

The New York Times 7-Day Happiness Challenge can be found here.

Cathy Joseph is the author of the Random Conversations blog and is currently seeking representation for her book, The Art of Having a Delicious Conversation.

© 2022 Cathy Joseph. All rights reserved.

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