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Tacos, Margaritas, and the Benefits of Talking to a Stranger

Updated: Jul 22, 2023

There is nothing like patio sitting on a warm sunny day. Recently, I discovered a delightful Mexican restaurant in the Midwest. Being from Texas, I am particular about my tacos. True story, when pregnant, I cried over a good taco in Houston. This time around, I did not get that emotional, but it still was delightful! Dare I say, better than some Texas tacos?


I also ordered a prickly pear margarita lined with Tajin red chili powder salt. Tacos and margaritas. I mean, they just go so well together, right? The hygae of warm weather: sun, patio, tacos, and a cool beverage.



Natalie, my nice waitress at this restaurant, gave a great description of the menu. She seemed so genuine and I felt a nice connection with this stranger on an otherwise lonely evening. I decided to push past my comfort zone and strike up a conversation with her. We talked about spreading positivity in the world. It was a great talk! Afterwards, I felt more energized. It is funny how strangers can sometimes affect you like that.


It even allowed me to extend kindness when approached later in the evening by an organization asking for donations. I identified with their cause (mental health awareness) and gave them a contribution.


Just like that, I helped impact the community. Only a bit, but kindness has a ripple effect. It made me feel good. And this all started with talking to a stranger.


So often in life, we keep to ourselves. But, humans are social creatures. Behavioral psychologist at the University of Chicago, Nicholas Epley states that humans do in fact like chatting with strangers, but before the conversation is started, they underestimate its positive effects. Epley’s studies consisted of individuals commuting to Chicago with varies modes of transportation such as on the train.







Results revealed the group who engaged in a conversation with a stranger had the overwhelmingly more enjoyable commute. However, this group before the trip thought talking to a stranger was not going to be as pleasant as it turned out to be.


So many times individuals are busy with phones and often devices covering ears that the present opportunity in the moment is missed. We are engaged “socially”, but not in life happening around us. And this is what our brains crave.


Of note, you do have to follow your gut. Do not talk to strangers where it is unsafe. However, in a safe setting, allowing a few more moments of conversation can make all the difference in your day.


Dr. Waldinger in his book The Good Life states that often negative effects of relationships are exaggerated while underrating the positive. And there really are so many positive effects.


Epley’s studies also show that often one does not realize how important their impact can make on someone else. For example, writing a note of appreciation for an act of kindness to a friend or acquaintance.


So, how can you push past your social comfort zone today? Or perhaps give a gratitude letter to someone? You never know the ripple effect these actions can have.


Thanks for taking the time to read! What are your thoughts? Let me know at: valerie.probstfeld@tomomistolove.com


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