Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday's Reflection: Little Smiles, Big Smiles

What has made you smile today? 

If you've walked by our house recently, perhaps the sight of a rubber ducky in the birdbath made you smile. I hope so. My husband got the idea to add this little piece of amusement to the front garden, and it does make me smile every time I go in or out the front door. It reminds me to smile and also to be open to smile-producing possibilities around me. 

What's There to Smile About?
Having a house on the market is serious business, and nothing about it makes me smile. Our home has been reduced to more of a product than our shelter and source of contentment, creativity, and connection. The goal has been to reduce our own identity in the house and return it to a more neutral state in hopes that potential buyers can imagine themselves in the house. I get it and have done what needs to be done, but smiling about it seems too much to ask. 

The rubber ducky in the birdbath, therefore, is even more of a treat. 

 My Smiling Experiment
On a recent Target run, I decided, as I walked through the door, I was not only going to smile my way through the aisles, but I was going to find one thing to smile about for every item on my list. Here's my list and what produced smiles.
Toilet paper. A baby about 8 months old wearing the most colorful combination of dots and stripes. I smiled at her. She smiled at me.
Kleenex. An older couple, each with a cane, in a minor skirmish about which paper towels to buy. I smiled at them. They smiled at me. 
Laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent. No one in these aisles, so I smiled at myself. That works, too.
French vanilla lowfat yogurt.  A Target employee unpacking cartons of yogurt. I asked him what flavor of yogurt he likes best. "None of it," he said. "My mom made me eat it all the time when I was a kid and now I don't even like unpacking it!" I smiled at him, and he smiled at me. 
Eggs. Eggs just by themselves should make anyone smile. Think about it--the whites, the yolk, inside a hard, yet fragile container. Weird. Why not smile just because?

At the check-out line I smiled at the college-aged girl in front of me. She didn't return my smile. I smiled at the clerk and asked her how her day was going so far. "Fine," she said and sort of smiled. At least I am going to interpret it as a smile. 

Smiling Words
Caren Goldman in her book Healing Words for the Body, Mind, and Spirit, 101 Words to Inspire and Affirm explores what Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh has to say about smiling.

       Our smiles affirm our awareness and determination
       to live lives filled with peace and joy. Moreover, when
       we remember to smile when awakening--even if it takes
       hanging a reminder such as a branch, a leaf, a painting,
       or some inspiring words close by--it helps us approach
       the day with gentleness and understanding. Even the tiniest
       bud of a smile on our lips has the healing power to
       relax all the muscles in our face, banish worries and 
       fatigue, nourish awareness, calm us, and return us to
       the peace we thought we had lost.

I returned home to the rubber ducky in the bird bath, and we exchanged smiles. 

An Invitation
I invite you to do your own smiling experiment. What happens when you smile? What makes you smile? What difference, if any, does it make when you smile? I await your comments. 

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