"It's better to be the one who smiled than the one who didn't smile back."
What do you do when you see someone smiling? Do you smile back? Look away? Wonder about the person?
I like to smile. It’s an easy thing to give, and it’s absolutely free. Flashing someone my pearly whites doesn’t even take a full second. And it makes me happy and lowers my stress level.
A Forbes article even covered the subject a couple of years ago. It said, according to multiple studies over many years, putting a smile on your face elevates your mood.
So, go ahead and curve those lips. I dare you. You’ll likely find your smile reciprocated, and you’ll be happier. It’s a win-win.
My daughter used to have a quote in her room that said, “It’s better to be the one who smiled than the one who didn’t smile back,” by Mari Gayatri Stein. I’ve found that to be true.
Why not do a little experiment? Go flash your teeth when you see others in passing and note how many smiles you get back. I’ll return the smile if I see you. :-)
If you’re anything like me, then you like having access to your mobile phone. Mine has become a constant companion, keeping me informed of the time and temperature at a glance, providing entertainment when I get bored, serving as a quick reference guide when I want to look something up, and tracking my steps — even though I have a Fitbit now. (It’s like I need a second opinion.)
Unfortunately, that phone can become an obstacle to real-life conversations. So I’ve had to learn to set it aside at times to avoid missing out on personal encounters. I had one such encounter not that long ago. A woman and I sat with our toes under a UV lamp at a nail salon, waiting for our nail polish to dry. Unlike me, she didn’t have a phone in her hand and started making small talk.
I could have given her short answers and continued looking at my phone, but this particular time, I chose to forego those comforts and step into the unknown. I put my phone down and engaged in the conversation.
Instead of advancing to another level in Candy Crush or catching up with my friends on Facebook, I learned this lady and her husband had been married 50 years and were preparing for a cruise to Italy to celebrate their accomplishment. I got to congratulate her and share about the Hawaiian cruise my husband and I took for our 25th anniversary. The woman and I swapped stories and talked about something we both had in common: travel.
I left the nail salon smiling, thankful I had taken the time to listen to a friendly woman and to reciprocate. I may never meet that woman again. But she encouraged me, and I hope I did the same for her. And you know what else? Facebook and Candy Crush were still waiting for me later.
When my pants got too tight for comfort, I decided to embark on a lifestyle change. I enlisted the help of my longtime friend, Marla, a personal trainer and certified health and wellness coach, and began eating healthier and more often, and making time for exercise.
After just a few weeks, my pants felt looser, and I could breathe easier. And then they got so loose I had to start wearing a belt to keep them from falling to my knees. After 12 weeks, I looked and felt stronger and had lost 13 pounds — and a taste for junk food.
And that was the worst part. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart, and tummy, for doughnuts. But the last time I ate one, I found it less than satisfying after retraining my body to run on healthy food. Doughnuts no longer have the appeal for me they once did. Nor do Raising Cane’s chicken fingers. Or a lot of other things I used to enjoy.
As I lamented that loss, I realized the same can be true for spiritual matters. After tasting and experiencing abundant life through Jesus Christ, what the world has to offer is less than satisfying.
I once heard someone say you can’t stay angry if your palms are facing up. So I tried it. And it really works. There’s something about putting our hands up in surrender that relaxes us, eases our tensions, and disarms our defenses.
The opposite is clenched fists. It’s hard not to be angry when your fists are clenched. To keep your hands in that position requires your body to be tense.
As the seasonal temperatures start to rise and you find your fists balled up, I dare you to loosen them and turn your palms up. And see what happens. I’d love to hear about it.
Today is a clean slate. You’ll never get it back with your loved ones. What will you do to make it count?
I lost my two sisters to breast cancer 16 and 11 years ago, respectively. Oh, what I’d give to have another day with each of them. They weren’t around to talk to about parenting or to celebrate milestones. But I can’t dwell on that. They’re celebrating in heaven, and that’s a good thing.
The point is you only have today once. And you can’t get it back. A sticky note on my desk says, “When time is spent, it’s gone forever.” It serves as a reminder for me to take advantage of the times I have with my husband and children, with my extended family, and with friends.
I can make a difference today. I may not get that chance tomorrow.
Christian, wife, mother of 5, breast cancer survivor, marathon finisher, writer and editor, author of "Help! I'm a Science Project"