On a recent business trip to New York, it was very cold, the wind was blowing, my feet hurt from the previous 8 hours spent walking the trade show floor, and I was starving. Needless to say, I wasn't in the best of moods and wanted nothing more than to go back to my hotel room and crawl under the covers. Unfortunately, I still had a business dinner to get through that evening.
So there I was, walking in the snow and wind, feeling very sorry for myself, and knowing my misery wasn't going to end anytime soon. I came to a corner where I had to stop to wait for the light. A little boy of about six was standing there, holding his mother's hand. Suddenly, for no reason, this child looked up and gave me the biggest, brightest, sweetest smile ever. His whole face just glowed in my direction. My rotten mood evaporated -- poof! -- just like that! With one brilliant smile, that little boy turned my day around.
I have thought about that incident many times since that trip -- how the actions of a complete stranger had such a profound effect on me. When I look back on it, I can't help but think about what effect I may have on the people I come into contact with on any given day.
The holidays are stressful times for so many -- people who don't have any family close by, people who have suffered the recent loss of a loved one, people who have lost a job at the worst possible time, or people who are just piling too much on their plates (as I was that cold New York day). This holiday season, remember this story of the difference a little boy made as you go about your day. Make your smiles brighter, say a kind word, offer to help if you can sense it is needed, and leave a positive impression wherever you can. One small gesture could end up being the best gift you have ever given.