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Happiness Tip: Talk to Strangers

Lucky people meet their perfect partners, achieve their lifelong ambitions, find fulfilling careers, and live happy and meaningful lives. Their success is not due to their working especially hard, being amazingly talented, or being exceptionally intelligent. Instead, they appear to have an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time and enjoy more than their fair share of lucky breaks.”
–Dr. Richard Wiseman

Believe it or not, scientific research shows that luck can be cultivated. When we do the things that “lucky” people do, we become luckier (and happier) ourselves! Here’s a starter tip: Lucky people talk to strangers. They greet strangers in coffee shops, talk to people in lines, chat with fellow airline passengers.

Take Action: This week, cultivate luck by greeting the people around you with a smile and a little conversation starter. (“Beautiful day, eh?” will work.) The bonus is that when we model lucky behavior, our kids pick it up.

Join the discussion: How do you kickstart a conversation with strangers?  Share in the comments!


  1. Susi Vasseur says:

    I practice this a lot. In fact I did my Toastmasters Inspirational talk on this very subject this morning. Important point….to do this we need to unplug from the technology! The world becomes a lot friendlier.

  2. Laura Trott says:

    I take my dog to the local park. All the kids want to pet him (which starts a conversation with their parents) and all the other dog owners naturally gravitate toward one another. I have met, and had conversations with, far more people now that I have a dog.

  3. twgoodman says:

    My kids are the best conversation starters. My daughter always carries a stuffed rabbit named “King Tut.” It is nearly impossible for us to meet anyone who doesn’t comment on the rabbit and then, there we are, meeting a stranger. Every time we have a lovely conversation at the grocery store or the bank line or the post office or the park, my kids walk away saying, “That was the nicest person.” And it’s true. The world gets smaller and kinder and we are left with more good stories.

  4. Donne Davis says:

    Six years ago I was walking in my neighborhood and spotted a grandma pushing her grandchild in a stroller. We both stopped to admire a black kitten. I complimented her adorable granddaughter and we began talking. I told her that her lovely Irish lilt sounded like music. She said she loved to sing. So I invited her to come to a singing group I belong to. We’ve been good friends ever since. We always joke that I picked her up on the street!

  5. idagatwood says:

    Oh God….I had to crack up when I read this tip. I talk to any strangers all the time. I
    traveled alone, with a backpack, through Asia and the Middle East for years, but quickly
    traveled with strangers and some became friends. I stricke up conversations at the market, library…… So many interesting conversations. Great post and tip Christine.

  6. Kathryn says:

    I had to crack up when i read this too and I’m thrilled to be able to send this to my kids. They are always rolling their eyes or acting mortified by me in public because I will talk to just about anyone. Secretly though I know they appreciate this about me and at least one of them is turning out to love talking to strangers as much as I do. Yea!

  7. Isabel says:

    I always start by a real smile. Means not a rictus but a frankly open mind smile. It works! most of the time, it’s all I need to do. The stranger starts to speak before me. I love that. I am just so curious about other humankind, it’s really interesting to meet new people just to know them not just for encreasing your luck. My top three lucky spots: train, playground, travels.

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