People Watching For a Higher Purpose

Next time you are in a busy place where people are walking or shopping, please take a few minutes to people watch with the crystal clear intention of observing joy. How many people are smiling? How many people look happy? How many of these souls radiate joy?

Step #2: Smile at strangers and observe their reaction. Observe how many people smile back at you and any other emotions your smile elicits.

This exercise is best performed where people are not stationary as they are so plugged into their smart phones and the exercise will not produce the same results.StopSmile_HB_BL

**Spoiler Alert** This exercise is a regular practice for me. I have yet to find a large group of people that consist of more than the random happy person and often not a single soul falls into the category of “radiating joy” that is older than a very young child. In a sample group of over 100 people I will see an average of two people smiling. This number includes people in conversations. This may sound depressing, and yes at some levels at is, but it has been a lesson and motivator for me.

As for Step #2, the results I find are mixed. The most surprising element of this experiment is how many people return my smile with a look as if they are thinking, “What are you so happy about? What’s the matter with you?”

I work in Yaletown, one of the swankiest neighbourhoods in Vancouver, BC Canada. Maseratis, Mercedes and Bentley’s speckle the roads, real estate is available at top dollar and the inhabitants clearly buy the best of the best from sunglasses to stilettos, lattes to high tech gadgets, yet the vast majority of adults look miserable. Abosolutely miserable.

By societies standards these people are the winners, they made it into the lucrative top percentage of people who can afford anything money can buy yet they find no happiness in it. What does this tell me? That being driven by goals of consumption and material demands does not lead to happiness.

As we dive head first into this new year and the juggernaut of society continues to build, multiply and consume, know that every choice you make is a vote and that makes each individual influential and powerful. When is enough enough? Why do we think that accumulating more stuff equates to greater happiness when clearly it is a burden?

We can all agree that at a base level we are happy when we our basic human needs of shelter, food, clothing and love are met and we are unhappy when they are not. Somewhere along the way society has added a premium to more stuff equaling more happiness and that is where we took a tragic left turn as a species.

I challenge myself and my readers to ask some deep questions about how we will cultivate greater balance and true long lasting happiness in our lives. I have lived a life overflowing with teachers that I would never in my right mind have requested, but man did they ever teach me a lot about love, balance and life.


In my humble opinion we find happiness in the stillness. In the peace of being in the present moment. Of watching the joy of children and recognizing that we too were once made happier by a hug from our Mom than just about anything we consume in our adult lives. If we want to live a life of true happiness and contentment, it requires work. I recently wrote about the difference between pleasure, happiness and joy if you want to dive a little deeper into the topic.

The time has come for us as aware individuals to do more than talk about change, we have to live the change. Please try this exercise and start smiling more yourself to cultivate joy. If there is to be peace in the world we must have peace in our own hearts.

Photographs courtesy of my talented husband Richard van Reeuwyk and my Happy Boxes Project.

All good things to you and thank you so much for stopping by! Wishing you peace, grace and love today and all days – Lisa _/|\_

Please Like my BloomLisa Facebook Page to get your daily dose of my new “Happy Boxes”, a co-creation of affirmations and quotes paired with my husband’s beautiful photography. Or here for my Twitter and Pinterest accounts. I am accepting booking in the Metro Vancouver area for holiday events both for corporate and private functions. quarter_ad_ScSh_2014

20 thoughts on “People Watching For a Higher Purpose

  1. Right on Lisa! Peace is to be found in loving ourselves and others. I’m seeing many similar messages to focus on peace, unity, love. Offering kindness and smiles are a great way to practice.

    To a beautiful new year anchored in peace and love for all. 🙂

    1. It can really light up my day when someone smiles back at me. I practice an exercise I learned from A Course in Miracles when I am on public transport (so no else notices of course) and I look around and in my mind say, the light in me salutes the light in you. I find it fosters that sense of connection and elevates my mood. Thanks for shining your light on my blog Alethea!!!!

      1. Love that “silent” approach of honoring the light in others. As though you are bowing in Namaste without actually going through the motions. Great idea!

  2. Love this post, Lisa!! I love to smile at strangers…most times they send it right back. One time a lady stopped walking because she thought I must know her…then she got embarrassed when she realized she didn’t. I tried to make her comfortable, but she ran away!! I was most shocked at her reaction. But I love to flash my choppers anyway!! So good to see you ❤

  3. I Love to look and smile at strangers and yes I do get smiles back. It’s awesome!!! Keep on, keeping on, shining your Bright Light!! I am right there with you! Love, Amy

  4. Yes, I always smile to people, but I’ve had to stop smiling at guys, they think I am flirting!! and take my smile as an encouragement to flirt back. But I still smile to women and children, and it is especially nice to smile to children because they always smile back!! 🙂 🙂 I observe people a lot and you know, people here in India always seem happier than for example in Singapore. And if you ask someone for help in India they will always help you, but not in Singapore. Most people that I see in rich countries are so busy with their mobile or their tablets, it seems a lot of people don’t like to think or be still anymore they want to be entertained all the time. Sometimes it makes me think that they are afraid of the stillness.

    1. I imagine you can’t help but smile at others with your sweet nature! It is sadly becoming a lost art in big cities and some cultures aren’t prone to it. I see such a huge benefit from spreading a small kindness like a smile around town, lighting up someone on each street block all over town as that smile spreads around, infectious and radiant! I like to visualize smiles doing that; that they have a life of their own and can reach far and wide. All the best, and THANK YOU for the smile😃

  5. I do this too Lisa 🙂
    Not a big grin kind of smile, because that might be a little creepy … more from the eyes.Its always a surprise and a delight when I see the light shining back 🙂

  6. Agree with your thoughts Lisa… As you wake up from bed in the morning, it is a good practice to smile at the first person you set your eyes on; may be your spouse or even anything inanimate, as what appears to be inanimate is another part of cosmos itself…wish u happy blooming into the newly unfolding year…. Raj.

    1. I do like that idea! I thank my bed every morning for a warm and cozy nights rest, but continuing on with that type of appreciation as you greet others is a beautiful evolution. Thank you so much for stopping by and shining your light here on my blog.

  7. It sounds like you live in a community that needs more smiles from strangers! It’s contagious! Working in an elementary school I’ve become accustomed to smiling at everyone (it’s my job) and what I’ve realized is that even if I’m not feeling the best I feel so much better when I smile (even if I had to force it at first). There are studies that say our emotions respond to our facial expressions and I believe it’s true! I love smiling at strangers. At least in this town where I live most people seem to exhale with relief at a cheerful face and reciprocate. 🙂

    1. More smiles indeed Shelah! I love the energy that works it’s magic inside when someone smiles at me, and just like you I love smiling at others. Busy cities full of busy people with so many first world problems have led to a fundamental lack of gratitude, community and joy. Here’s to changing that one smile at a time😃🌸😇

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