I am currently in the middle of a “hi” experiment. I am consciously trying to say hi more often – not only to people I know at work but also to total strangers.
My parents grew up in Ireland and I remember each summer flying back to the Emerald Isle to visit relatives. Even at a young age I noticed something visibly different in Ireland – people said hi when they passed one another. At the time it was more like “how’ya” (in an Irish accent), but you get the drift. It was a message. “I see you” was what it said. I remember it making me feel really good. Wow, this stranger just acknowledged me!
Fast forward to present day – I am 36 years old, I work downtown and commute to Steveston (Richmond) each day for work. I would say I am generally a friendly person, an extrovert. However, the thought of saying hi to complete strangers is uncomfortable, even for me. So I decided over the last month to lean into the discomfort of that and I have been pleasantly surprised.
A few weeks ago I went for a run in the morning in Steveston. I passed about 30 people and said “hi” to every single one. Ninety-five per cent of people I passed either said “hi” back or acknowledged my greeting with a nod or a smile. Most of them noticeably looked a little surprised at first but then they warmed, their eyes met mine and they gave a genuine response.
My purpose in doing this was connection. Connection helps build community. In fact, my favourite author Brene Brown says, “connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustence and strength from the relationship.”
The one thing I didn’t expect was how I was going to feel. It felt great! Who knew that saying just a simple “hi” could make me feel so alive and full of warmth. It seemed so simple and yet it filled up my heart. By the end of my run I was feeling great and vowed to talk more to people in the elevator in my office building and say hello more, especially in times when I wasn’t feeling so generous in mood.
I encourage you to try the “hi” experiment. Pick one day and say hi to five to 10 totally random strangers. Let me know what happens!