The Smile Project
I haven’t always smiled. When I was a young child, I mastered the scowl pretty well. If you questioned my mom, she would say I was special and an emotional child. It’s not that my life wasn’t great but inside, I felt lost and sad. It took me a very long time to know myself and what makes me truly happy. If I could change anything in those lost but not forgotten years, I would take my high school teacher’s encouragement to smile more often.
My younger sister, Barb, gave me sage advice a few years ago that has stayed in my heart. She spoke of the necessity to always wake up with a smile, even if you don’t really feel it inside. Her reasoning is that if you keep doing this eventually it will come naturally and you’ll feel the happiness. Barb accounted the times when she proudly marched through the motions at work with a smile. She worked in a chaotic hospital doctor’s practice and there were times she just didn’t feel like smiling constantly, yet she persevered with a positive attitude.
When I first heard this, I pondered the notion deeply. I wasn’t confident that a manufactured fake smile beat a genuine frown, because anything fake isn’t real and true. Would I overcome the dreadful blues one day and plaster on a gritty grin ,when inside I would be boiling with other emotions? How would I generate a smile during the toughest day of my period? Could I smile when deadlocked in a chain of heaping grocery carts on a hectic afternoon? The answer is yes….absolutely and I’ll tell you that it works!
After my deep conversation with my sister, I decided to go through my days and simply observe smiling people. Most of the time we go through the motions of life, too busy to notice details such as a smile. The first day of strict observations, I noticed how beautiful people were while sporting a smile. A warm, loving feeling filled my insides, overflowing of kindness for others. It’s amazing how a toothy grin leads to not only goodness, but fosters a human connection. We are all in this together and if we just smile and stay positive, we can accomplish great things.
This project continues everyday at home, in public venues and at work. I smile and hug my husband when he comes home tired from work and listen to my sons with a warm expression. In public I’ve noticed how strangers reciprocate a grin back and even sometimes chat a little. On a extremely busy day picture me in the crowded grocery line with cramped carts lining the check out area. The store employees rush around and attend to customers ,while baggers bag in sync with the cashier’s scanning and managers nonchalantly walk through the chaos. Disgruntled, impatient shoppers cuss about the line and how they should’ve come on this excursion another day. The frustrated middle-aged cashier with chestnut brown long wavy hair, didn’t seemed thrilled with her day. Once I reached her and hurriedly placed my stash of groceries on the conveyor belt, I felt the need to cheer her up. I smiled and freely passed on positive vibes. She immediately smiled back and relayed to me that it had been a stressful day. After I paid my bill and proceeded through the line, I sincerely wished her well with the rest of the day. I also hoped the older couple behind me would treat her kindly.
There have been times that I’ve forgotten this advice and strayed from this, but I started living it again a few months ago. My true intention is to continue doing this with God’s help. This small town wife and mom feels as if she’s made a difference! It’s been a wonderful journey and challenge to smile and spread goodwill to all people I may encounter. I’ve made acquaintances in the grocery store, reached out to people at work who I wouldn’t have before and targeted just about anyone who I have eye contact with! The smile project has developed into not only an act of goodwill but has fostered my self-esteem and overall well being. It feels as good as helping a friend in need or taking care of my family.
The next step in this profound journey is to spread the great news! A beautiful beam will change your day and your outlook on life. Instead of viewing everything with a cloudy negative vision, flex those facial muscles and stay strong with a positive purpose. When a friend or family member is down and in need, pass on the smile and you will reap endless rewards! Smile inside and out, knowing in your heart that whatever obstacle or happy milestone you reach, you’re prepared with a smile.
All my best,
Heart and Soul ❤️