No, I’m not talking about dwarves, here. Rather, I’m talking about the people we normally don’t notice. They’re not really little — and no one really is — but somehow these are the people that always pass under our busy gaze.

The amount of people we encounter on a daily basis is incredible. The amount of people we don’t consider is also incredible. I don’t write this as a rant. I write it because it’s true.

I really started realizing this when I was in the hospital for a few days this month. All around me people were busily working during the holiday season they probably wanted to spend with their family. But what I had failed to realize that first day I was in the hospital was just how many people were working on just one case. When I counted it, over 15 people had given their time to help me. Granted, it was part of their job, but I had never considered just how much work goes into one person. When I started thanking them for their hard work or finding out a little bit on how their day was going, it made them much more happier. They expressed gratitude that I had even said anything to them.

The same goes for our daily lives. Just how many people were involved with your shopping experience? How many people were involved in that food that eventually came to your dinner table? Countless people. We don’t meet all these people who are involved in our life, but for the chance few ones we do meet, how do we treat them?

If any of you have ever had a job where you were required to work with other people, how were you treated? In my experience working as an employee at a theme park, work seemed pretty grim at times. Through my interactions with various “customers,” a large majority would say the rudest things to me, regardless of what I did. It became depressing after a while. But, occasionally one customer would be considerate enough to just notice me, tell me hello, ask me how my day was going, would hope I would be able to get home soon to spend time with my family. Among all the terrible things I encountered there, what kept me going, and usually what I remembered most were the people who had a simple, nice thing to say.

Just noticing a person is enough. Countering the rampant unhappiness in the world has some simple solutions. One of these is to treat everyone we meet with kindness, not just the people we live with. People are all around us who need one nice thing said to them. An otherwise dreary day can turn wonderful when these people hear an uncommon “thank you” from a customer they usually don’t expect it from.

We are all children of God, regardless of socio-economic status, place of employment, age, etc. As children of God, we all need to support each other in our positive endeavors. We are there to comfort those who stand in need of comfort. My hope for the new year is that we can all learn to spot the “little people” out there who may need our help in the sometimes smallest and simplest of ways.

So, I’m not a sad panda. I’m just Panda.