Did you know that, as an American, whether you feel like it or not, you are incredibly wealthy?
On a global scale, the vast majority of Americans are either upper-middle income or high income. And many Americans who are classified as “poor” by the U.S. government would be middle income globally, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.
But that’s not what I’m talking about. In fact, I don’t care if you don’t have a single dime in your pocket. If you are alive, you are very wealthy.
In fact, if you can say the word "hello," and especially if you can include a smile along with it, you are not only wealthy but you are incredibly powerful.
The greatest gift you can give to someone is to acknowledge their existence. The greatest indignity you can perpetrate is to ignore them.
Today I walked around a lake in Littleton, Colo., a suburb southwest of Denver. One lap around the lake is well over a mile, and there are a lot of people of all ages that trudge, stroll, skip or bike day and night along this path. It is one of those urban spots where they try to duplicate nature but fall a little short.
In the midst of this exercise, my highly accurate personal survey put the number of people that said hello to me at about 5 percent. That included one friendly faced male, wearing a burgundy beanie and cool shades, along with a little old lady from Pasadena shuffling by herself with a walker.
She looked to be more suited to a hospital hallway than a widely used Coloradan concrete exercise path.
I said to myself, that lady will make it about 50 yards at best. More than half-a-mile later, she was still trudging along and exuded much more power than most others combined, including the high-speed sprinters and bikers, just because she performed the simple act of saying hello.
In fact, because she looked a little like Mrs. Claus, had she not said hello, I might have been devastated.
Sam Sommers is a college professor who, at the end of a semester, received a card from a student who said this: “Thank you for the way you taught this course. In the moments before each class started, you walked around and talked to us, chatting about the course, asking about our weekend or just joking around. And what I appreciated the most is that you did this with everyone in the room — not just the students you already knew.”
In other words, Sommers was saying “hello” to each student. In a powerful way, he was acknowledging their importance.
So, I’m asking you to say hello whenever you can. Because a single goodbye can be so devastating that we all need a stack of many hellos just to offset it.
I remember that writer and editor, Donna Gabel Hatch, once said, “For every goodbye God also provides a hello.” I hope it will be a bunch of hellos, thanks to people like you.