I really love retired life. My days are full and I love the freedom it affords. Even so, in a moment of madness, I accepted a short-term position which landed me back in the workforce for a period of six weeks. Three weeks into it, I’m musing on the value of a smile.
Each day of my assignment, I have been given the opportunity to interact with anywhere from 25 to 75 individuals for a portion of my day and theirs. What has repeatedly pierced my heart in these interactions has been the power of a smile and those who seem unable to give and receive them.
I have long been challenged by a desire to present a smile to all I come in contact with. The humble, quiet, smile can break down walls, lighten loads, ease anxiety, cheer the down hearted and comfort the hurting. It can encourage the worried, create a safe space for the scared and elicit a mirrored response. In that moment, all is good and right when someone smiles at you.
I find it disturbing when humans, both young and old, walk around with blank, angry or hardened faces. These faces appear unwilling to make eye contact and unable to give or even respond to a smile. They walk around with fences around their hearts that dare anyone to tear them down. I weep, especially, for the young students I have seen these last few weeks, who enter a room face down, stone faced and unable to receive the warmth of a smile, let alone return it. A smile invites others into your life, if only for a moment. It says, “you are welcome here in my world for this time we are together”. It makes you accessible and allows someone to experience a moment of joy.
If you refuse to receive and respond to a smile with one of your own, you are shutting those out who are purveyors of peace and joy. Perhaps fear, isolation or abandonment has caused you to shut others out for fear of being wounded by someone you once opened your heart to. Consider that a smile may well begin to heal what is broken and warm what has grown cold.
Let’s admit right now that it’s not always easy to smile. Sometimes it is a sacrifice to set aside how we’re feeling inside and to go beyond those feelings to give someone else what they might need. But let’s also be real. It’s not that hard to turn up the corners of our mouths even when we may be hurting inside. What does that old song say?
This is some good advice friends. Take heed, because when we smile we not only brighten the person we’re giving it, too, but we are also notifying our own soul that there is still much to be joyful about and to be grateful for. We cheer ourselves when we cheer others.
Take the smile challenge. Make it your business to give more smiles today. Bless someone with a gift that costs you nothing but may be an encouragement to one desperately in need of it.