Fearless month has proved to be one of the most difficult to stick to. The entire notion that I face my fears seems simple enough, but where do fears have a purpose and where do they have a detriment. This morning, I’ve faced one of my major social phobias. I used to live in a much smaller place with little to no crime and much friendlier people than San Francisco. I have the luxury of a one hour commute in the mornings, 30 minutes of which is a walk through Oakland and SOMA, SF.
People in these cities have abandoned the small town feel a long time ago, and yet, I find that I haven’t. I want to be able to say good morning to people, smile at them, talk to them about random things, and in general be the pleasant person I like to be, but something often stops me. I’m often afraid that with the walls that society has created, I’m actually being rude for knocking them down. I see a woman with her kids out for a walk, if I say good morning to her, will she think I’m a pedophile out to attack her kids? If I say good morning to a homeless person, will they just beg me for money I won’t give, yell at me, or worse?
Ultimately, these thoughts are all ridiculous and yet play themselves out in my mind over and over again every day on my way to work. Today, I tried it. I said good morning to people, smiled at them, and treated San Francisco as though it had the small town feel I wish it had, and the results were overwhelming. People are wired to be nice to you when you’re nice to them. You say good morning, you smile at them, and before they can even snap out of their haze of morning walking with no interruptions, they’ve smiled and said good morning back. It’s almost funny how little they expect it, and how much it affects them.
One woman didn’t even know how to respond, and she had to stop and turn around to make sure I had said something. I just smiled and waved and she was off with her morning. Fearless month isn’t just about trying things that scare you, it’s about being something that scares you too, and I’m that crazy guy who smiles and says good morning, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
Here’s my challenge to you: Try being extra nice to people today. Just for today. I’ve chosen to do so on my walk, you could do it while you’re driving, or on your bike. Take an extra step to make sure someone else is having a good day. It surprises me how good it feels.