Monday Mitzvahs: Service with a Smile

Photo credit Petr Kratochvil Brene Brown, in her book Daring Greatly, talks about a scenario that some of us will recognize.  She went to have her nails done at a shop she has been frequenting for years.  Small talk over the span of this time has added up and she knows the women in the shop by name, and they know hers.  They know about one another’s families etc.

One day she saw a couple of women come into have their nails done.  They  were on their cell phones.   They answered the manicurist’s questions with head nods or pointing, and never for a moment got off their phones.  Brene was stunned by the rudeness and asked the manicurist about it.  She got tears in her eyes and said, “Yes a lot of people are like that; it’s like we are not even here.”

This story really made me think.  Is our culture getting so involved in technology that we are forgetting the value of connecting with the person in front of us?  I’ll leave that for you to decide, but I hope not.

I am reminded of when I was in Venezuela as a missionary.  As a greenie, I was overwhelmed and disheartened by the poverty.  So great was the need, and I had no way to fulfill it.  It was heartbreaking.  When I asked for advice, I was told, “You just harden your heart to it after a while.”  Unacceptable.

Then I read something by Mother Theresa.  I can’t find the quote, I have tried, but it was something about how sometimes people are hungry, naked or cold yet they lack not food and clothes– but human kindness, love…the warmth of a smile.  That quote from Mother Theresa was for me like waking up from a bad dream. . .there was something I could do.  I couldn’t solve their financial woes, but I could smile, I could say hello, I could genuinely love people.

Taking time simply to pay attention to the person in front of you, whether it is a stranger or a friend…taking time to smile and be in the moment.  That is truly a small act of kindness, but a powerful one.


Photo Attribution: Petr Kratochvil

Monday Mitzvahs was inspired by Linda Cohen and her book 1000 Mitzvahs.  You can learn more about her here on facebook.  Or read her book!



  1. What a wonderful reminder, Leslie. This is especially important to children and all who are wanting to be noticed.

  2. I think you are such a great example at helping those around you feel great by interacting with you. Even if it’s something that is paining you, you are gracious in the way you deal with others. I can really tell you’ve let that Venezuelan experience work through you and shape who you are today. Thanks for sharing!

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