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When I read an obituary and someone comments that the person who died was someone that “Never Met a Stranger,” I immediately admire them. I’m drawn to people that are able to connect easily with others and are respectful of everyone. To me this is a gift, no different than being a talented painter or teacher.

Why is it important to connect with others? Even with strangers? What difference does it make in the long run?

I’ve always believed that connecting with people who aren’t part of our lives is important because we’re all in this together. We all share the most basic human needs and wants. It’s good to learn from others. Most of the time after I talk with someone I don’t know, we both walk away with what Barbara Fredrickson, PhD, calls “micromoments of shared positive emotion.”

Nicole Frehsée explores this idea in an article in O, The Oprah Magazine’s February 2013 issue, “The Love Connection.” Frehsée says, “Here’s some simple advice: Spread the love. Not just with your partner, family and friends but with people you hardly know, because the more loving you are in everyday life, the healthier you could be.”

I’ve taken this advice to heart for as long as I can remember. I talk to strangers all the time, like when I went for a blood test a few months ago. The phlebotomist was an unfriendly lady. I smiled at her and she didn’t even crack a smile.

“What arm do you want it in?” she asked.

I talked to her about this and that, “chatting her up,” as the expression goes, but I couldn’t get a rise out of her. Maybe, the woman who had her blood drawn before me was a pain in the butt. But just as I thought that the phlebotomist was a person who couldn’t connect with others, she lightened up.

Who knows why she wasn’t the friendliest initially? Maybe that’s just how she gets started—slowly. The main thing is that we connected and I lifted her spirits. She lifted my spirits too because I was happy that I was able to make her happy.

When I was leaving the room, I said, “I guess I’ll have to wait to get the results, won’t I?

“Yes,” she laughed, “you’ll get a call in a couple of days.”

Just then a woman with reddish golden hair came in and sat down to wait her turn. I thanked the phlebotomist. She had also found my vein the first time she pricked me and I appreciated her talents. The two of us had made a connection, no matter how briefly, and experienced all the benefits that come with our “micromoments of shared positive emotion.”