As I was sitting here thinking of what to write, the words, “taking goodness for granted” popped into my mind. Not knowing exactly what those words meant, I decide to just start typing and see what would land on the page.

I know I am not the only who has the ability to start conversations with strangers. I like to take advantage of an opportunity to strike up a conversation with someone, give them a smile, help them out a bit, or share a laugh with them.
Just yesterday when I was at the grocery store, I found myself automatically lending a hand to two people who seemed to need a little assistance.

As I was walking toward the door, I noticed an elderly gentleman, whose car was parked in the handicap parking spot, struggle with walking. He was using a grocery cart to hold himself up as he walked toward the door. I walked up to him and gently asked, “Shall I walk alongside you?” I wanted to be sure he was safe walking across the cross walk. He gently replied, “That would be nice.” And so, I walked with him to a scooter just inside the door.

Acknowledge other people

I like to think that we could all pause our lives for a brief moment to acknowledge other people. I know…we are all busy and we have extremely important information in the devices we clutch in our hands. But, what if…just what if…we make a point of lifting our heads up so that we can see one another? Look at others and notice how they are feeling. And, offer a “Hello” to someone. Smile at someone as you walk by. Notice the impact you have on that person and how that makes you feel.

Helping others

The other interaction I had was absolutely phenomenal. It may even have been a spiritual experience. As I was approaching the produce section, I happened to notice a woman struggling with opening those darn produce bags that are difficult to open especially when you have your hands full with other items.

As I walked toward her, I simply reached for the bag and helped her open it so she could place her produce in the bag. It was an easy gesture. She smiled and said, “Why did you do that?” I replied, “Because I can.” She continued, “Hey…you know…that’s what I do! I help people I don’t know!” As I walked away, I noticed she had coffee and almond milk in her basket just like I did! I commented on that and she said, “Oh! You look in other people’s baskets, too??”

She and I ended up talking and making each other laugh for the next 30 minutes. I didn’t walk into that grocery store thinking I was going to have a connection with a perfect stranger. It was a moment that unfolded. It was an interaction that was supposed to happen.

As we laughed and shared a few more stories, we had a couple of “Oh. My. Gosh!” discoveries. Toward the end of our conversation, I said my name and asked what her name was. She says, “My name is Diane.” I thought, “Yes. I was supposed to be right here at this moment.” My mom’s name is Diane. She passed away 26 years ago. I felt goosebumps on my arms. (That’s a sign for me of reassurance of a spiritual presence and a positive affirmation.) Diane said, “My daughter’s name is Julie!” As it turns out her daughter and I have the same middle name. She asks what my father’s name was and it’s the same as her husband’s name. And, yes, it gets even better…her mom’s name is the same as my mom’s mom’s name. Are you following all of this? It blew my mind, too!

My eyes filled up with more tears as I said, “This encounter was supposed to happen.” And, my new friend, Diane, hugged me and said, “Yes, it was. What a blessing.” In that moment, I felt the loving presence of my mom who had passed away so many years ago.

Take advantage of the good that you have and share it with a stranger. Who knows…that stranger may become your friend or may be someone who says the words you need to hear at that moment.

About the author: To find out more about Julie Ostrow, please click here.

‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’

The Positive Psychology People is co-founded and sponsored
by Lesley Lyle and Dan Collinson,
Directors of Positive Psychology Learning and authors of the
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