Truth Byte #39
“It doesn’t take much to make someone smile.”
Today, I read a story to my 3-year-old daughter as she waited for her dance class to start. While we were reading, three other little girls and and older brother that was dragged along for the carpool snuggled up around me and secretly listened. I invited them to join us (as if they already hadn’t), and their faces lit up. Someone noticed that they were interested and invited them to join in.
That was all it took.
As the dance teacher came out in the middle of our second story and the girls ran in to class, the older brother, who was about four years old, was left with a half-read story and a pile of ballerina books. He shyly leafed through the book I was reading to them, sneaking glances up at me. I asked him if he wanted me to finish the story. His face broke into an ear-to-ear grin as he nodded enthusiastically. So I sat there, for just five or six minutes, completing the story with this little big brother. And he smiled the whole time.
There are a lot of things we can do to make each other smile, and most of them don’t even take five or six minutes. The easiest thing is just to smile to ourselves as we look out onto the world. Have you ever noticed a happy stranger? The people who walk around in the world just looking like they are at ease with everything? That’s who I challenge you to be this week.
But here’s the catch: it’s hard to be genuinely happy if you are
- Beating yourself up about something
- Judging other people
And really, those are the only two barriers. I know this because I have met and counselled people who have every reason to be miserable, and yet, have found a way to maintain positivity. I have also met people who seem to have all the good things, and yet their “inside voices” are like pure acid.
Smiling, and being willing to seeing the world through the filters of hope and positivity, is simply a choice.
And for the scientists out there, here is a brain-science tidbit: your mind can’t really tell the difference between a fake smile and a real one (even though your best friend probably can!) So at first, it may just be about a fake smile. Eventually, you really will start feeling better.
And I am not encouraging you to be inauthentic, or just put on a happy face. I am a true believer in showing up as you are, and being the real you. However, there are always a variety of ways to look at any situation, and if you really look for it, there is likely a reason to smile, even if it’s just because you are smiling at the irony of it all.
And if it’s too hard to smile in the grown-up world that we have collectively imagined and then created, take a break from it for a while and go hang out with some kids under six. They will remind you about wonder and curiosity and being happy for no good reason. No kids in your vicinity? Enter YouTube. Hundreds of videos of kids just being adorable, lovable, and laughing uncontrollably.
Rather than furrowing your brow at the latest world news or family drama, what if you just allowed yourself to hang out with happiness and smile?
It will probably make you feel better.
And it may even rub off on someone around you.
It’s your life and only you can live it!