Earlier this month we did a post on the importance of a smile and the power it has to change the world. Speaking of the world, we find ourselves in a world that has made sharing a smile very difficult when it would seem the most needed. Due to health and safety practices we must follow in order to get the world coronavirus pandemic under control, masks have become a feature of many people’s lives. The city I live in just made wearing a mask mandatory.
Whether you go out for coffee, a quick trip to the grocery store or even a quick walk in the park, you may see many people with masks covering a good deal of their face.This is needed to help us get back to being safe and healthy. On top of quarantines and stay at home orders, not being able to see another person’s smile is a sad way we may feel more disconnected. As with every great challenge in life, this one also provides a great opportunity. While it may be true that we cannot see each other’s physical smile, we can still hear each others smile if only we choose to smile out loud.
What do I mean by ‘smiling out loud’? In the time I have spent in the Caribbean, in the southern part of the United States and even to some degree in the western part of the United States, people are more likely to greet you. In the Midwest, where I live now, it would seem not as much. As we are feeling more and more separate from each other and as the time we must endure physical distancing, it is more important than ever to treat each other with dignity and respect.
A simple greeting is a way of smiling with your voice. When we pass someone say “hello” or “Good morning” “Good afternoon” or whatever pleasant greeting you choose to use. In a world where we are all longing for not only a sense of normal, but some face-to-face human interaction, that small, seemingly insignificant greeting can be like a dose of medicine. There are plenty of people who are feeling lost and alone. We need to bring a smile to these people even if we can only do so with our voice for the moment.
As an added bonus, do your best to say your greeting with a smile on your face. What good does it do to smile if you have a mask covering it? Just because someone cannot see your mouth does not mean they cannot see your smile. You see it in someone’s eyes, you can even hear a smile in someone’s voice. Every step we can take to make the world a brighter place during this trying time we should. If you have any addition suggestions on how to share a smile when someone may not be able to see your face, please leave them in the comments below. We must all stick together to make life better for everyone.
In this blog in the past we have discussed the power of a smile and the effect it can have on both those receiving and those giving it.We are going to tackle this subject again for several reasons. One, the world could really use more smiles now. In an age where people are either feeling persecuted, or concerned about how what they say may be misconstrued, a smile can be a welcome sight. If you are a person who may feel that they are judged for their race, their religion or any other reason, can you imagine how much more at ease you would feel when you walk into somewhere being greeted with a smile?
Another great reason to remind ourselves to smile more is because we are never quite aware of what a person may be going through. The smiling person you passed in the grocery store may be hiding some of the deepest pain. A smile makes someone feel valued, it makes them feel important. That is why if you have any job that deals with the public you have a great opportunity to change people’s day, and perhaps more, with a smile. To this end, a smile can make your job a lot easier as well. If a customer in a bad mood approaches the counter and you greet them with a smile it can be quite disarming. If they are already in a good mood it will certainly make the transaction go more smoothly. It will make your work day a lot more pleasant and their day as well.
That brings me to my final point. In reading this quote you may assume, like I did, that it was talking about others. In fact, this can be directed at yourself as well. Smiling and being pleasant can change our world for the better. I have personally witnessed this in my own life. I did not used to be as positively focused and certainly did not share that feeling as often as I do now. When I do, I noticed that it has brought me more friends, a better reputation, better customer service and most importantly – I feel an inner peace that I did not feel when I was angry or focused on what was wrong in the world. Being a part of the solution, that is spreading more love and positivity instead of adding the overwhelming amount of negativity, has allowed me to feel like I am making a difference. To me, there is no better feeling than that of making a positive difference in the world and those you share it with.
Do not take my, or Mother Teresa’s, word for it. I encourage you to test this theory out for yourself. I encourage you to share a smile with at least 5 strangers today. Better yet, try this for a week. Say“Hello!” or “Good morning” or some sort of thing. Say it with a smile on your face and see what a difference it makes. Then, feel free to share the results with us!
Today’s post is one that is simple, not complicated. It should be easy to do then, right? I have learned in my over 2 decades of work in the self-improvement field you should never confuse the word simple with the word easy. Sometimes the simplest things in life can be the most difficult to do on a regular basis. Even if we know what to do, having the strength and will to do so can be a different story all together.
That brings us to today’s step in our ’10 steps to happiness’. That step is Frown less, smile more. There are many studies from some of the most prestigious universities that prove the physical act of smiling can go a long way to improving your emotional state. There is even one study where they took clinically depressed individuals and had them do nothing but smile in a three-way mirror for a scheduled amount of time and the results they experienced either rivaled or surpassed the prescription medication they were on. Of course, the economic ramifications of this will reduce the chances that we will see more such tests.
The results are there. From a personal standpoint, how do we feel when someone smiles at us? Even if they have the audacity to do that to us when we are trying to remain in a bad mood, it will, if only for the moment, bring us a certain amount of joy. Often, the act of receiving a smile will cause us to return one of our own. Get one from a puppy dog or small child and you can all but kiss that bad day goodbye! How does it feel when you receive a genuine loving smile from that special person in your life? I can tell you that nothing gives me a greater sense of pride or accomplishment than to see a smile on Margie’s face and knowing I had put it there. (Not to mention her beauty shines through the most when she smiles. It is like a ray of sunshine)
If all of these smiles feel so good, if there is even scientific evidence to back up the physical benefits of smiling, why do we not smile more? Some of us are self-conscious of our smiles. Maybe we even have dental reasons to feel so. Keeping that in mind, you don’t have to flash your teeth like you are a used car salesman or a star on an infomercial. Although, it does bear mentioning that a smile can even be an effective business tool. Even an upturn at the end of our lips and a little sparkle in the eye can be joy to anyone’s soul. Someone who smiles is automatically more attractive. Don’t believe me? Think of those weight loss commercials. The have a before and after picture. Guess which one is smiling? The one after they have used the latest miracle pill.
Sometimes the act of smiling takes effort. There are many people, myself included, who when concentrating or otherwise involved have a stern look on their face. If we were to take a deep breath and smile, it would not only undoubtedly make us feel better, but would also refresh our brains so that we may better concentrate on the task at hand. Whatever you are doing today, make sure to take a few moments out of your day to offer a smile to as many folks as you can. it will help increase both your happiness and theirs. That is what you call a win/win situation.
I’m sure we all know some old 18 year olds and some young 80+ year olds. What is the secret to staying young? Mindset. Ok, that sounds easy but how does one keep a young mindset? This can be a challenging thing to do the older we become. Pain, heartache all can leave one feeling older by the minute.
In my life there have been three great keys to staying young. First, surround yourself with people who have a young mindset. There is nothing better than a friend who encourages you to laugh and to live. Take chances, try new things.
The second key to staying young has been learning to take care of my body. To live life to the fullest you need energy. The best energy can come from being physically fit and healthy. You do not want to run out of gas climbing the mountain of success. Incorporate a daily walk in the park into your routine. Even 10 minutes of exercise can get you on the right path. Eat healthy meals more often. Trust me, some of them taste amazing.
The third and final key to staying young may be the most important. Grow and maintain your sense of humor. There is no anti-aging product that works as well as laughter. It truly is the best medicine. Taking life too seriously is the quickest way to grow old before your time. Watch a funny movie with the one you love. Draw a silly picture. Learn one new joke a day. Just keep that smile on your face.
Feel free to share any tips you have for staying young in the comments below.
Ok here it is, confession time. How many times in your life have you been asked the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”? For me it has been countless times and until quite recently I have not even known the answer. More about that in a later post.
Back to the picture above. I recall the answer to the first time I was asked this question only because those who love me will never let me forget it. I was a small child, not sure how old when I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. Not really a master of the laws of biology I answered quite simply “I would like to be a whale.”. Thus beginning a long string of thoughts outside the box that continues to this day.
So what is the point of that little anecdote? That I was a strange child who grew up to be a strange adult? If you know me or follow this blog for any length of time that should be apparent. If this is your first time meeting me through this words let me save you some contemplation and assure you that is so. Not the point I am striving for here, however.
The point of our little story is this. Today at the Milwaukee public market, my lovely lady picked this strainer up for me. Obviously she knows the story of me wanting to become a whale. She finds it cute as she does a lot of the dopey aspects of me. One of the many reasons I love her. So she picked this up because it made her think of me and she found it cute. Why would 2 adults spend extra money on a strainer just to have a smiling whale on it? Simply put, because it makes us smile. I have a Winnie the Pooh coffee mug that says “Take an unbotherment break” on it. It reminds me to take time each day to be curious and care free like the loveable bear. I encourage you to pick out and purchase things that make you smile. If other people think you are strange? That’s ok. You will be the stranger that is always smiling!
As you can see in the caption this is a picture of a bear who waved back to a camper after he waved to the bear on his way out of the campground. What can we get from this article? Bears can do cute things? Sure. Perhaps they can understand basic human communication? Maybe.
Here is what I got out of this picture and article. The bear in question is a Kodiak brown bear from Washington. I don’t know him personally, but they are reputed to be one of bears with the worst temperaments. In this picture however the bear looks quite friendly. In fact, he is acting quite friendly. By waving, or showing paw, he is showing bears can be rather friendly. Now I am not telling you to go up to a bear in the wild and start waving to see what happens. Some bears are not as friendly as this one. The same can be said for people. Still when we wave we become like this bear, friendly and approachable. So as you drive and even walk down the street share your smile or maybe even a wave. It will astound most, please some and confuse the rest. Either way you will be doing your part to make this world a far more enjoyable place. Feel free to even print out the picture of this bear to remind you to wave and be friendly and approachable.
Also feel free to share this post with everyone you know. The more people we get smiling and waving the friendlier the world will become for us all.