I’m at the gym, walking in, headed to the locker room. I pass 3-4 people on the way, only one of which makes eye contact.

Walking down Shockoe Slip and the same thing happens – more sophisticated-like though, professionals on their cell phones, checking their watches, shuffling with papers or their clothing.
Running through the Museum District and saying hello to the passersby. My eyes meet with one person and a smile appears. Hooray! A connection was made, and the world was right.
Why is it that when we acknowledge one another, we feel better? Like an unspoken connection telling us – the world is right and good. And we are alive.


  1. The world is full of people who deserve to be acknowledged. It will be easier to acknowledge those you care most about if you start by practicing your acknowledgment skills on people you don’t know very well, or even know at all. Then you will begin making the world a happier place.
  2. It is likely that acknowledgment can improve the emotional and physical health of both the giver and the receiver. There is already substantial scientific evidence that gratitude and forgiveness help well-being, alertness and energy, diminish stress and feelings of negativity, actually boosting the immune system. It is reported that they can even reduce the risk of stroke and heart failure. This research leads us to believe that acknowledging others has similar effects.
I found these excerpts from a website promoting the book, The Power of Acknowledgment ( While I can’t give you a full on recommendation of the book, as I have not read it, I agree with the concepts that Miss Umlas is talking about.
If we live with an outward focus, paying attention to other people and attending to their needs that we can help with ..
Part of this thought stemmed from when I used to solely commute via bicycle to work and other places I needed to go. Imagine, rush hour traffic. It’s hot outside, so most people have their windows up and a/c on. Everyone in their own little world – on their cell phone with a loved one making dinner plans, jamming out to the hit on the radio, thinking about their weekend .. mostly oblivious to the people directly around them and getting upset when they have to slow down for an extra 30 seconds while passing a cyclist — or maybe they don’t slow down.
For a fact, running and cycling have made me a better person because of the awareness of others that it brings with it. Not a great person, don’t let me get an inflated ego here, I am constantly a work in progress!
(Does anyone like tripping over the person wearing headphones in a race?)
The truth is, we are all interdependent people. There’s no one person who is entirely self-made. We are where we have gotten, yes, in part because of our own effort, but the effort and help of other people as well. To make my point — your car broke down 3 weeks ago – what mechanic helped you with it? You went out to a restaurant with your significant other – who fixed the food? Who brought it to you? Who built the restaurant that you could enjoy it in the first place? How about your job? It wouldn’t be there without the people that started the company, and the people that frequent your business and make it possible to have revenue to cut your checks.
If we all live out the concept of being outwardly focused, I know for a fact that our city would be a better place. Then our state. And our country! Don’t you want people that come to our country to visit to fall in love with how awesome we are, instead of wanting to blow it up or harm it for some reason or another?
Can I throw a challenge out to you to reach out to one person today and make their day better? Whether it be a smile, an acknowledgment, an encouragement, or some type of tangible help, do it today. Then do it tomorrow. And the next day. Make it a habit. Make it a character trait. It’s amazing how much happier by default we are when we tend to others!
“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
― Robert F. Kennedy

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