About three weeks before Christmas, I stopped by Wal-Mart one night after work. The store was surprisingly crowded for a weeknight and maneuvering through the aisles was difficult. I finally got the items I needed and proceeded toward the check-out area, but I wasn’t making much progress.
I found myself walking along beside a Wal-Mart employee who I had seen in the store many times before. I only knew a few things about him: he always had a big smile for everyone, was helpful and friendly, and had Down syndrome. As I walked along beside him, he smiled at me and we exchanged greetings. I finally reached the checkout area at the front of the store. Just before he walked away, he turned to me and said with childlike innocence: “I really like your outfit.”
His sincere compliment caught me off guard and I was surprised by how much he had touched me with his simple words of genuine human kindness. I was still smiling a few minutes later as I walked out into the cold December night air. I thought about him later that night and wondered how many times a day he lifted someone else’s heart - even for just a moment - as he had mine.
I have made only a few New Year’s resolutions for 2012 and none of them involve exercise or food, but one of them grew out of my experience that night. I want to be more conscious of the people all around me every day, and watch for ways to lift their hearts, as he did mine. There are so many simple things we can do and say, and so much gladness we can share, if we would just pay better attention to the people right beside us. And I am resolved this year to pay better attention.