Can we help others (and ourselves) feel less lonely with just one question? The next time you’re checking out at the grocery store, bringing your car in for service, grabbing your dinner from a delivery driver, or on the phone with your grandma, pop out these five words and see the magic happen!

What five words, you ask? And could an epidemic like loneliness really be treated with something so simple? The short answer: yes. The longer answer? Well, we’ll let the psychologist who came up with it and two fantastic people who spent a week testing it out give you that! It’s by far the easiest way you and I can be #HelpfulNow.

Image: Elderly woman peering out her shuttered windows smiling!

Source: Pixabay

Whether you’re a fan of conversations with strangers or not, we have a short, easy conversation starter that will help whoever you’re interacting with feel less lonely and isolated. And as a bonus, you’ll reap some of the rewards as well!

To show us the science behind how we can help each other through our days—and what these five words I keep talking about are—we’re turning to one of our new favorite creator duos, Brian and Alex of Nowhere Men. They were challenged by the psychologist Dr. Mark Goulston to get out there and give this question a shot! And luckily, they’re bringing us along as they work through their own social nervousness to leave the world a little brighter with just one question…

Take a look!

Pretty amazing how much of an impact that one question has—you can see it all over everyone’s face in that video!

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This video is a part of Nowhere Men’s Psychology + Personal Development series, which you can find here. And you can discover all of their great content from over on their YouTube channel! You’re sure to find something that’ll make you smile! They recently released a video with a similar experiment from an expert all-around how to cope with stress during social distancing. Check it out here!

If you’d like to hear more from Dr. Goulston himself, I highly suggest checking out his TED Talk! Join his What Made You Smile Today movement by asking the people around you and by following along on Instagram!

I know that talking to strangers can be nerve-wracking, so here’s an article I put together that can help us navigate it!

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Here’s How to Talk to Strangers

There are a lot of great people out there that you don't know! If you'd like to change that, or at least make your introductions easier, here are a few tips.

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So, dear reader, what’s made you smile today?

Was it how excited your dog is to see you? Good weather? Your kid saying something ridiculous? Did you roll over and see your sweetie? I’m writing this article from home as I distance myself from society to fend off the coronavirus, and here’s a list of what’s made me smile so far today:

  • Luring the cat I live with to hang out with me with a hefty dose of catnip.
  • Reading the first draft of a new guest writer’s article. (Keep an eye out for this gem!)
  • Watching John Legend perform a concert in his robe over on IGTV!
  • Realizing, again, that I don’t have to put pants on to go to work.
  • A phone call with my dear friend.
  • A beautiful message from my dance instructor.
  • Knowing that I’m going to go for a walk later!
  • Creating this list!

We have a wonderful tool at our disposal. And even if you aren’t face-to-face with somebody, try asking this question on the phone with your grandma or mother, or give it a try when you FaceTime your best friend. What made you smile today? Have this be the first question you ask with people and see where it takes you! You can help people recall the good things that are happening in their lives and give them that little boost of dopamine that could influence the rest of their day for the better.

Let us know how it goes! You can celebrate all of the things that have made you smile today over in our Facebook group! Trust us, by sharing your list, you’ll help others find more beauty in their own lives.

Share what you’re doing to be #HelpfulNow!

Helping ourselves and our loved ones move through a difficult time doesn’t have to be hard. Sometimes, it’s as simple as asking a question, connecting over FaceTime to have tea, sending each other letters, getting creative at dinner, or coming up with a new game for your family! Whatever you’re doing, we want to know. And we have a challenge for you.

The #HelpfulNow Challenge:

Whatever it is you’re integrating into your life to help your community, shoot a short video about it! Then, post it on your preferred social media platform with the hashtag #HelpfulNow, tag Ever Widening Circles, and, most importantly, tag at least three of your friends to challenge them next!

Let’s get this wave of positivity and progress going, folks. When we use our skills, talents, and time to help lift each other up, even the worst times can be bright.

Keep up with the #HelpfulNow tag on Instagram and Facebook to find videos from our team and wonderful people around the world sharing what they’re doing to be #HelpfulNow! The variety is amazing.

Can’t wait to see what you’re up to!

Stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” — Albert Einstein 

Learn more about the #HelpfulNow challenge!

We’ve written a longer piece about the intentions of the #HelpfulNow challenge over in our blog. Click the button below to read!

About #HelpfulNow!


  1. Brian. “The Science of Smiling – Ft. Dr. Mark Goulston.” YouTube, 2020, Accessed 19 Mar. 2020.

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and taster of cheeses.