written during my second month of freedom from smoking and originally posted on december 22, 2001, this tale talks about human relations, how they're like living in a hall of mirrors, and how having good relations with other people can help you to stay quit.

the hall of mirrors

2009 January 17

did you ever notice that when you smile at the person you see in the mirror, that person smiles back?

try this experiment: smile at the next 100 people you see. what was their reaction? now try this one: glare at the next 100 people you see. what was their reaction?

and did you ever notice that when you glare at the person you see in the mirror, that person glares right back at you?

did you ever go to the fun house at a fair or a carnival and visit the hall of mirrors? i think we could learn a lot about life and human relations by going there, even if it's only in our minds...

if you've never been to one in real life, picture this: you walk into a darkened room and you're not quite sure what to expect, but you do know that you came in here alone. as your eyes adjust to the light, you look around, trying to orient yourself to your new surroundings, and you're startled to see that you're not alone after all; there are other people here! lots of them! and they're all staring back at you, just as startled to see you here as you are to see them...

as you watch them, you notice that whenever you move, they move, too. then you realize that they're all wearing the same kind of clothes you are. suddenly, it hits you: you're in a room full of mirrors, and those other people who startled you (and who you startled in turn) are actually just multiple reflections of yourself! you may feel a little foolish that you were tricked this way, but what if you could spend some time in that moment before you realized that all those other people were "only" reflections of you? in that moment, you would have realized a fundamental truth of human relations: the world is very much like a hall of mirrors.

try this experiment: smile at the next 100 people you see. what was their reaction? now try this one: glare at the next 100 people you see. what was their reaction? would it surprise you if 99 people in the first group smiled back at you? or if all 100 in the second group gave you a dirty look in return? it shouldn't. reverse the roles: what do you do most often if somebody smiles at you? if someone gives you a dirty look? guess what? me too. and just about everybody else, too.

so what does this have to do with quitting smoking? think about it: don't you find it easier not to smoke when you feel good about yourself? i know i do. and doesn't it make you feel good about yourself when you believe that other people like you? and what's the universal sign that somebody likes you? they smile at you. so, understanding that we live in a hall of mirrors, if we want all those other people to smile at us (thereby raising our own feeling of self-worth), what should we do? smile at them, of course.

because they live in the hall of mirrors, too.

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5 responses leave one →
  1. 2004 July 15
    Marvel permalink

    This is a really nice post, Kevin.

    I'm finding it easier and easier not to smoke AND I like myself better and better. I wish smiles could help someone quit smoking, and maybe, just maybe, they do.

  2. 2009 January 17

    note: the comment above was left on the original tale at the date and time indicated.

  3. 2009 March 16
    laras permalink

    this is really cool!

  4. 2009 March 16

    :)

  5. 2010 February 3
    Linda permalink

    I'm starting my 2nd month of smobriety - am happy to have found your site and look forward to reading more of your observations. It is INDEED a treat to be smoke-free - I highly recommend it!
    Thanks.
    Linda
    Quit 1/2/10

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