Every time someone returns my friendly smile with a morose glare, every time some talented driver cuts me off in traffic, every time a cashier can’t be bothered to respond to my hello, a Sam Roberts song begins to play in my head: “Bangkok to Babylon, where have all the good people gone?” Yes, at times is seems they are all hiding out, probably trembling in fear at the big scary world out there. Time to re-circulate them!
When the haters of the world begin to bring you down, it is time to take back your power from the fear mongers (and there is, unfortunately, a hefty amount of them). Time to start throwing out the love and smiles! Nurturing and developing all the kindnesses and good feelings you have (and there is, fortunately, an endless supply) will get them flowing, so they drown the crummy ones. Since this is something that does not come naturally to all of us, I’ve sought out ways of strengthening the lighter side of the universe, to help prevent our earth from toppling over onto the nasty, dark side, and imploding into tiny bits.
How about paying for the person behind you in the long line for coffee? How about giving your bag full of unwanted household items to a smaller charity that can’t afford to advertise for your generosity? How about asking the server at your table how their summer went instead of crankily demanding another water? How about complimenting that elderly man standing in the line-up on his impeccable taste in ties? How about asking that person in the wheel chair struggling with their bags if they’d like a helping hand to their vehicle? How about instead of berating yourself for not sticking to your diet, you treat yourself to a big, healthy salad for dinner and start fresh? When you’re good to yourself, you’ll surely attract more of the same from others.
Bad things happen to all of us. Maybe labeling them isn’t such a great idea. Let’s say instead challenging things happen that help us grow, learn compassion, and bring us further on our evolutionary path. There truly is no point in wallowing; it only makes you feel worse. The truth is you have control over what you focus on. Who do you choose to give your power to – the good news or the bad news? Complaining about the jerk who stole your business account from under your nose only makes them seem bigger and more powerful than you. Complaining about the traffic only makes it seem in charge of your well-being. What about expounding the virtues of the client who took the time out of her busy day to compliment you in a long email on your excellent customer service? What about telling all your friends about the kind driver who stopped to let you into a line-up of cars this afternoon? What about remembering the person who made you laugh until your abs hurt? Repeating these stories to others makes them remember all the good things that have happened to them too.
Recently, I visited a coffee house one Saturday morning to relax and read. Two older gentlemen sat beside me and were catching up on old times. Slightly irritated by the interruption, I caught myself and decided to just relax and enjoy the chatty atmosphere. One of them asked me if I was ready for Christmas, and we conversed. Then, the other complimented me and soon they were both flirting shamelessly! I was laughing so hard by the time I got up to leave, I could barely see straight. If I’d left earlier because I chose to focus on something I didn’t want, I would have missed out on a great conversation and fantastic belly laughs from two kind hearted souls. What a difference a smile makes!
Never underestimate the power of a kind deed or word. When it comes to kindnesses, size, style, smile, or shape does not matter – it’s all about your intention. It’s also contagious! Let 2013 be the year of smiling often.