An Excerpt from Hop, Skip, Jump

by Marney K. Makridakis

I recently was at a hospital for a routine lab appointment and was stuck in the elevator for a short time. It was nothing dramatic — it couldn’t have been more than about five minutes — but during the time we were stuck, I had a great time with a handful of strangers. A man says to the woman next to the controls, “Hey, I thought you were driving this thing,” and everyone kind of chuckles. Then he says, “Well, is anyone serving drinks?” Another man holds up his chalky medicinal mixture — for CT-scan contrast, I imagine — and says, “I’ve got a drink!” The chuckles switch to a laugh. Then another person points out someone is carrying a urine collection jug and says, “Hey, I’d rather have that than what she’s carrying,” and suddenly we’re all just cracking up. It was a moment of spontaneous bonding with strangers whom I most likely won’t see again — although if anyone in the elevator with me on March 28, 2014, is reading this, thank you for showing me that even being stuck in an elevator in a hospital can be playful!

Play Can Make Someone Else’s Day
People who naturally gravitate to Skipping often find a meaningful life comes from meaningful connections with others. They are often natural magnets to other people, and as a result, they attract interesting opportunities. Sharing a playful energy in the world is a great way to open conversations, make connections, and expand your opportunities. As you go about your day-to-day life, how might you invite a stranger to play?

The fun in the elevator happened because one person decided to be playful. Because of his choice, I went to my appointment with a smile on my face, and I imagine the others did, too. It seemed like everyone in my path was nicer than usual. The phlebotomist told me I had a great smile. A woman in the waiting room commented on my shoes, and we talked about our love for bright colors. The valet told me to “have a blessed day,” and I looked him in the eye and said, “Thank you. I am.”

Studies have shown that, interestingly, positive interactions with strangers make a greater difference in our mood than positive interactions with those close to us. The results of these studies encouraged people to give passersby a nod, greeting, or other acknowledgment. While you’re at it, why not share a bit of play, levity, whimsy, silliness, or the kind of smile that comes from your eyes as well as your lips. That good-humored man in the elevator set a playful tone for the rest of my day. To whose day will you bring play?

Try This: Collecting Smiles

This exercise works best if you are wearing something with two pockets. If you don’t have pockets, I invite you to playfully improvise another solution, such as collecting your smiles with a pen and a small notebook. If you do have pockets, here are the steps:
1. Grab a handful of coins and put them in one pocket. This is great way to use the spare change hiding in the backs of desk drawers or under floor mats in the car.
2. Each time you share eye contact and a smile with someone, move a coin from one pocket to the other.
3. At the end of the day, gather all the coins you moved from one pocket to the other and put them into a jar or container. If you’re running short on spare change, you can simply count up the number of coins and keep a written log of how much you “earned” during the day.
4. Repeat this the next day. Try it for at least a full week. At the end of the week, you can use the “smile savings” you’ve collected to buy a fun new toy.

This exercise will make you aware of how often you smile, and as a result, you’ll start looking for more smiles to exchange. You’ll see how you can use Skip energy to move from person to person with authentic connections. You’ll also feel yourself getting richer — the more you give, the more you get!

Marney K. Makridakis is the author of Hop, Skip, Jump and founder of the online community Her first book, Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life, hit #1 on Amazon’s bestseller lists in several categories. Visit her online at

Adapted from the book Hop, Skip, Jump: 75 Ways to Playfully Manifest a Meaningful Life. Copyright © 2014 by Marney K. Makridakis. Published with permission of New World Library.