When’s the last time you were able to bring joy to a stranger and see it on their face?
It turns out, there is an easy way to do it and I’d venture to say it would work for most people.
The other day I was in the grocery store, and as I picked up my usual bargain pack of gum in the candy aisle, I noticed the Werthers Caramel filled candies that are only sold in the 20-30 piece bags.
Hadn’t had one in ages, and I wanted some NOW.
Standing in the checkout line, I was still eyeing the bag in my cart and debating. I wish I could say I had more self-control, but eating a piece or two of candy is not my style. Im more likely to finish the bag within two days so the debate was whether I believed I wouldn’t do that this time.
As I hesitantly laid the golden bag on the belt, the cashiers eyes lit up and she said “I LOVE those but I never buy them because I’d eat the whole bag!“.
The bag person chimed in, “I know, right? They’re so delicious“.
I laughed and was relieved that I could say “Me too! Im actually here thinking about whether Im making a mistake!”
So I had an idea.
I opened the bag and said “Here! Share with me!” to the cashier.
She paused for a second and I swear she glowed.
“Oh my gosh, really? I’d love some!” She took a few.
I gave some to the bag person too.
Then I turned around and gave some to the cashier in the next line.
I looked behind me in line and saw a guy smiling as he was unloading his groceries onto the belt.
“Do you like Werthers?”
“Sure I do”
“Here! You should have some too!” I said asking him to put his hand out so I could put a few pieces in his palm.
We all put a piece in our mouths right away.
Everyone was smiling and laughing.
Looking at our faces in that moment, you might have felt like you caught a glimpse of the little kid in all of us. It was a few moments of delight, joy, and fun.
However briefly, we bonded over the silliness of avoiding big bags of candy because it’s so yummy that we might eat too much.
It’s better than what most of us do. I wasn’t the person with my head in a magazine or glued to my phone, making zero eye contact and saying nothing more than “thank you”.
You may not call this connection.
But it is.
Connection doesn’t have to be ’til death do us part’ or only around deep intellectual interests, for gosh sake.
Sometimes a feeling of connection is just a moment of presence and true awareness of another human, with zero walls between you. Even if it’s a moment.
A shared smile, laugh, or eye to eye intake of breath. Sometimes thats all it takes.
Shared joy invites connection. And vice versa.
It’s not a stretch to say that these moments of joy and bonding over Werthers candy were the reason why I walked out of that grocery store with a bounce in my step that boosted my mood for hours. Id like to think it did the same for the others there too.
Maybe the cashier was happier and friendlier after I left, and maybe she passed it on to someone else. Maybe the guy in line was amused enough that he went home or back to work and told a friend about the woman who was doling out candy in the checkout line. Who knows?
Joy is contagious, it’s good for you and anyone around you, and it’s apparently not that hard to elicit.
Try this: put a jar of individually wrapped candies at your desk. It’s not just about the candy, obviously.
It’s about taking the opportunity to create a light-hearted moment with the person who stops by to take a piece. Candy can be an invitation to delight, and to connect. Pay attention when someone stops by.
It sounds corny, but I wondered to myself what it might look like to carry some candy around in my purse and look for opportunities to randomly delight someone.
I am the person who has deep conversations with strangers. Giving candy would be a breeze compared to approaching someone to ask for a deep conversation. So I could do it just to see what happens.
Although it would have to be a kind of candy Im not crazy about if Im going to keep it in my purse. Perhaps… butterscotch disks. Or Starbursts.