A Little Happier: It’s a Lot of Work to Make Friendly Gestures, But We All Have to Try.

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Back when my daughter Eliza was young, she wasn’t particularly good at engaging with children she didn’t know.

One day, my husband Jamie and I were trying to coach her a bit on how to make conversation with someone new. “You could ask the person a question, like ‘What’s your favorite color?’” I said. “Or you could say ‘What’s your favorite thing to do at school?’ or ‘What kind of candy do you like?’”

She looked at me skeptically and said, “I like it when other people say those things to me.”

Jamie and I burst out laughing. As little as she was, she already recognized the effort that it takes to be sociable. “Oh, honey,” I said. “I like it better when other people do it for me, too. But we all have to do it.”

In our family, we still talk about this conversation! It came up a lot when Eliza was a freshman in college. Because the fact is, it’s a lot of work to be friendly, to meet people, but we all have to do it.

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