What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of…. Oh Mr Bacharach, how right you were. Does anyone else flinch every time they see the ‘Breaking News!’ alert pop up? It seems like terrible tragedies are being heaped upon each other every time we turn on the TV. These are difficult times.It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the enormity of such events. We feel small and powerless. Yes, we can donate to emergency relief funds, send provisions, attend rallies or protests. But how can we, in our everyday, continuing existence make a small difference to those with whom we come into contact? 

Sometimes, as individuals, we feel like our contribution is so small that it won’t matter. What we need to remember is that real life is mainly made up of the small things, the random acts of kindness that can lead to a change of mood, a better day, a ripple effect of respect and care.

So, with that in mind, we want to share a game that we play on our walk to work every day. More than that, we want you to join in. I feel like we could get a league table together, sponsorship, a TV deal…

This game was inspired by my lovely Grannybags. She was a big one for showing and sharing the love and had this poem framed in her kitchen: 

THE SMILE CHALLENGE

The rules: smile at everyone you pass

The aim: get a smile in return

So, this is what we do- with every stranger we come across, we try and make eye contact (in a non-terrifying, non-Terminator 2 way) and give them our best bobby dazzler. If they smile back, that’s 1 point. 

If we’re upping the ante, we’ll chuck in a good morning. A returned good morning gets 2 points. It’s extremely gratifying and also makes you feel a little like you’re in a Miss Marple village, without all the murders. 

Instant 3 points if you can get someone’s gaze away from their phone. Add a bonus point if they’re from a stereotypically non-responsive group. I’m looking at you, pubescent boys (again, in a non-terrifying, non-Terminator 2 way…)

4 points for a persistently grumpy individual. Someone that you’ve persevered with and you finally manage to crack by getting them to crack a smile. We never know what another person might be struggling with. Everyone deserves a bit of kindness.

Deduct a point for any accusations of stalking. You’ve gone too far. You’re now a statistic. 

In the tea rooms, we see it as part of our job to serve up a smile with our coffee. That seems like corporate cynicism from the outside, doesn’t it?! We all know those fake, hollow ‘have a nice day’ platitudes. But with us it’s real. We promise. We know that we might be the first adult a parent has had a chat with that day. We’re a respite from tantrums and tedium. We could be a treat on a birthday or a pit stop on an important journey. Our responsibility and our absolute pleasure is to add a bit of joy into our customers’ day. Joy and caffeine. And cake. Joy, caffeine and cake.

It’s really lovely to hear that we’ve helped people. One customer told us that we were the destination for her first outing after a terrible miscarriage. She had specifically chosen us as a friendly, safe, comfortable first step back into reality. We’re pleased to say we were also the first place she brought her beautiful, healthy baby to a year later. 

Be the person that makes someone else’s day. Join our smile challenge and come in and tell us your running score. Be prepared for this to get competitive.