A simple smile at a stranger might be the only bright spot of his day. Shared laughter at a silly story or joke might make the only time she felt joy that week.
“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” ~ Mother Teresa
I give smiles and I receive them but how often am I grateful for them? Our family loves to laugh and we share funny tidbits with each other often. Congregating all together in one place finds us smiling and laughing uproariously because we have a couple of real jokesters in the family that make us guffaw.
In chronicling my 30 days of thanks giving, I remember an incident that made my heart thankful a few years ago when I caused a little boy to smile bringing joy not just to me but to other children as well.
At my former job, I traveled to schools both public and private, and presented programs primarily to middle and high school aged students. Once at an event, my young colleague and I spoke to rounds of teens about making good choices for a healthy future. In between chats with them, elementary students also made the rounds among the exhibitor tables. My co-worker, a young man with no children, looked panicked for a brief moment at the thought of having to interact with little people instead of cool teenagers. But the mom mode in this empty nest mama reemerged at the sight of those little ones.
An entire class of youngsters marched single file past us and stood in line for a game beside us. While they waited to play, I greeted them and asked what grade they were in. “Second grade!” came the jubilant reply from two or three of them. But the little boy directly in front of me did not answer, just looked at me and frowned.
“Second grade?!” I exclaimed. “You’re getting so old!” I made an exaggerated face. And they all laughed. Except frowny boy. He scowled at me.
Aha, a challenge. So I eyed him up and commented, “You don’t look happy to be here like your friends are.” He scowled a little deeper. The sweet little girl next to him said, “Oh, he’s always like that, he NEVER smiles!”
“Never?” I peered at him as his frown grew worse. “Ever?” I asked getting down on one knee to his level and looking right into his cute little face. He knitted his brow, pursed his lips, and his frown morphed into a really grouchy one.
So I, of course, made a grumpy face back at him. He answered my grimace with an even sterner look which I then matched and used both of my pointer fingers to pull my frown down even more. His classmates giggled. Just then I saw a fleeting glimpse of a smile start at the edge of his mouth which he promptly turned into an even greater frowny face.
“Oh no!!!” I said pulling my own frowny face down as far as it would go. “I think we’ll have to start crying now!” I wailed. And all of a sudden, he couldn’t maintain the grouchy grumps any longer. His lips started to quiver as he tried so hard not to give way to a smile, but he burst into not just a smile, but a little laugh out loud.
“You made him smile!!” his classmates yelled. “No one ever makes him smile!” And they laughed, and he laughed, and I laughed. And then he put his grumpy Gus right back on his cute little face.
Inspirational writer Mary H. Waldrip said, “A laugh is a smile that bursts.” And for one brief moment, when that little guy’s smile burst into a laugh, his heart became glad and that did wonders for mine. I want to try a little experiment during my 30 days of thanks giving project. I’m going to attempt to smile at every grumpy face I encounter.
And I’ll be thankful, even if they don’t smile back, because I can smile.
“It takes a lot of work from the face to let out a smile, but just think what good smiling can bring to the most important muscle of the body… the heart.” ~ Author Unknown