Say Hello to Kindness

“Dad, why do you say hello to everyone?”

My son shot this question to me during our recent vacation. His inquiry sprang from a genuine curiosity, and not the more typical teenage fare of, “Why are you so embarrassing, father 1?”

It was a good question, and I was happy my son noticed my practice of greeting people as they pass by. These greetings aren’t much more than a “good morning” or “How ya doing 2?” But the sentiment is important. As people pass by I am intentional in acknowledging them as people, and not as generic obstacles who might be between me and my destination.

This type of acknowledgement is not something which is a natural result of my psychological make up. People drain me, and I have an instinctive ability to sense how much of my mental and emotional energy will be drained by people who impose themselves on my psyche. But I also recognize the need to be present for other people, and the impact such a presence has on the world around me. And this awareness comprised my answer to my son’s question.

“I say hello because a little kindness in the world goes a long way.”

I’ve seen this impact with my own eyes. It always amazes me to come into a retail establishment, for example, and meet someone who looks drained and tired and unhappy 3. But when I say, “hello,” and ask how they are doing, most workers’ faces brighten as they reply with the culturally acceptable response, “I’m well, thank you 4.”

And, yes, this is a behavior I have had to train myself to practice. A revelation my son found fascinating, as it gave him hope to develop his own social graces 5. I am not a nice person, and never will be. But I strive to be kind, because people in this world are in desperate need of genuine kindness.


  1. That’s my daughter’s job. 
  2. That’s Philadelphian for, “Hello.” 
  3. And given the way retail workers are treated in our “bottom line” world, who can blame them? 
  4. Occasionally I’ll also meet someone who is struggling and will take the opening to share their current dilemma, which offers opportunities for interesting conversation. Even more rare I’ll meet Eeyore. I feel bad, but I usually back away slowly from this last type of person. 
  5. Truth be told, he’s more socially acclimated in his teen years than I am in my forties. 

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  1. Lovely words, and so very true. xxxxx

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