On how I affect others

Apologies ahead of time if this sounds conceited, self-centered etc. It is a self-realization, but a a self-realization about something that’s good about me, which I don’t feel nearly as comfortable talking about as my many flaws.

For those of you who know me in real life (and perhaps it even comes through on LJ), I’m a happy person. I tend to be cheerful, and I tend to enjoy my life. Not that I don’t complain as much as anyone, but all in all, I have always been on the positive edge of the emotional scale.

There are times, frequent times, where I hit my zone. It’s not that I’m necessarily ebullient — although I’m that often enough too — but that I am in my own skin and quietly joyous. I may be thinking about something else… the autumn colors, the coffee I’m about to buy, how much I like Garrison Keillor, how that was a pleasing church service, but I seem to radiate something.

Yesterday, after church, I was thinking about all those things, and I was obviously in my zone. I was whistling the PHC theme song “Oh hear that old piano, from down the avenue…” as I walked through the rain to Starbucks to get coffee. And I stopped a man dead in his tracks. He said, “You must be in a good mood.” (I get this a lot. In addition to questions — often vaguely suspicious — about why I smile so much.) As usually happens in these situations, I hadn’t really been thinking about my mood, but I realized he was right. I smiled, and I told him that it was a beautiful world. He sort of nodded his head, surprised, and agreed. I was even happier then when I realized I was happy, and sort of bounced through the store. He couldn’t take his eyes off me. He waved a shell-shocked goodbye as I left.

This particular phenomenon has happened to me more than once (and often in Starbucks — one barista actually bought me a bouquet of flowers after a day like this). And you know, I’m cute but not that cute. I don’t think it’s about how I look. And yesterday I realized what it was. A joyous person is incredibly attractive. When I am happy, and in my zone, I really *see* people. I don’t look past them and I don’t look at them, I see them. I look them straight in the eyes. My head is up, and I’m engaged with the world around me. There is music in my head and in my heart, and I can’t not smile. And I think that all of those are so unusual, they really attract attention. When I’m in that state, drivers in other cars smile back at me.

When I was 16, I remember being miserable at school and hiding in a corner, hoping someone would care enough to come find me and dissuade me from my misery. You’ll be shocked, shocked I tell you, to hear that never worked. But when I am joyous, and don’t actually *need* anyone to do anything for my contentment, I attract people like flies to honey.

So what’s my take-away from this? I’m not sure. I know that when you are blue and would like to attract people, it is almost impossible to radiate contentment. I don’t think it can be faked. But maybe it can be emulated when I’m not in the mood… instead of hanging my head (which is natural and pervasive), force myself to look up, and meet other people’s eyes. Smile reflexively. Try to actually see people. Joy begets joy, while isolation and misery drive away others.

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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

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