This post was originally from 7-21-14. It’s what I needed this week though, so I thought I’d share. Stanley Gordon West said, “Smile and the world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone.” Although sometimes it is true that people aren’t as quick to share in the hard times, I think that our demeanor has a great impact on the people around us for better or worse. How many times have you been in a fast food drive through and the cashier has a grim face and hands over the food without so much as a word? I try to tell myself that maybe they have had a bad day and shrug it off. But now think about this. How many of those times have we been laughing and talking with someone else in the car, yet as soon as we see this person in a less than stellar mood, we shut it off for them and return the brusque attitude?
Isn’t the fellow human who is not showing a sunny disposition exactly the person who needs to see optimism and a good attitude? Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” We do have an effect on each other, and we should work to make that effect good. None of us live in a vacuum, although when I was younger in a way I thought I did. As Mia says in Princess Diaries, “I am invisible, and I’m good at it.” As much as I used to think nobody ever noticed me, I have had to finally accept the paradoxically uncomfortable and comforting fact that people are aware of my presence.
That’s because people began making comments about my smile. Not necessarily that I have a pretty smile, but that I do smile. A lot. I rarely smile on purpose; I think it is nearly my face’s default position, and often I don’t even realize I am smiling until my cheeks start hurting. You know the feeling that comes from trying to keep the same “cheese” face for pictures for extended periods of time.
The moral of my story is that I started to pay closer attention to how I relate to people. Working in the PT clinic gives me ample opportunities to see people on good and bad days. I decided that people I treat really could use a little cheering up to go with the healing up. So I am as pleasant and cheerful as possible with all the patients I see. The extent to which a lot of people reciprocate this is actually quite impressive. It’s much more enjoyable for me, and I sincerely hope for them, for the half hour or hour we work together. The side benefit is that, even if I am having a bad day myself, if I can put that to the back of my mind and show a little sun I feel better by the end of the visit too. Of course, it doesn’t take away my problems, but it gives me more endorphins or something to make them easier to deal with.
Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Isn’t it true? Anything in life is easier to deal with if you can keep a smile. On my worst days, when I can’t find a shred of cheer in myself and have to struggle to see it outside of myself, I just don’t feel good. I am tired all day and feel like I have to drag myself just to stand up from a chair. Luckily I have coworkers and family who understand the value of a good laugh, and we try to keep each other built up.
I have heard it said many times, several by my Sunday School teacher, that Christians should be the happiest people in the world. It’s true. We have the biggest and best family, the most readily available support system, and the greatest hope in or out of this world. Why would we not want to let other people see and share this? Let’s make people wonder why we are happy. Because at the root of it all, on those days where I have to dig deep to be cheerful for my patients or family, that’s where I go. To the knowledge that, no matter what, everything will be ok.
The next time we wonder why everyone we see is so grim, let’s look at the other half of the mirror. Maybe they aren’t bringing joy from their side, but are we giving them any to reflect? Mirrors don’t generate light; they can only share what they are given. They also don’t take light in and keep it; they can only share what they are given. So let’s show what we want to see. And just in case you need a smile for today, I’m sharing one via my screen right now. Your job is to share it with the people you see who need it. And isn’t that everybody?
May The Lord bless and keep you,