Common Sense Comes to Town!

Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have. (Descartes)

A World of Smiles

Posted on | October 20, 2010 | No Comments

This morning wasn’t very different from other mornings. As far as I know, nothing in the daily news validated a change in our collective mood. Nevertheless and without any discernable reason, the strangers met randomly during my daily commute seemed to smile more often than usual.

This said, while I’d like to attribute this singularly odd behaviour to a sudden increase in my own charisma, I must in all honesty admit that nothing in my allure or appearance warranted such sympathetic outbursts. Instead, I’ll enjoy my good fortune and maybe ponder the meaning of these random moments of kindness and happiness.  

Such free quick smiles required no big effort from perfect strangers. On the other hand, they brought me a certain comfort, enhancing my enjoyment of the morning. How were they paid back in return? With not much but a sometimes reciprocated smile, if I was fast enough. Maybe though I did unknowingly grant them a more substantial reward.

Thus, a New York Times chronicler reported recently that certain parts of the brain associated with pleasure were activated when we donated to charity. It seems that altruism is a potent source of deep satisfaction. These folks may have been smiling, uncertain of the individual effect of such a gesture, but confident on the whole that it would make a difference.

Was it a self-motivated gesture? I don’t believe so. Just as likely, these people were smiling because they were simply happy, and because the smile of others reminded them of their own happiness.

In any case, that is what motivated my smiling face today.


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  • Photographie par Patrick Meunier

    Tous droits réservés, Patrick Meunier, 2010

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