30: Try a Smile

30: Try a Smile

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive

Try a Smile

The world always looks brighter from behind a smile.

~Author Unknown

I was at the post office early that morning, hoping to be in and out and on my way at the start of a busy day. Instead, I found myself standing on a line that zigzagged through rope-defined lanes and oozed out into the hallway. I had never seen so many people there and it wasn’t even a holiday. Someone must have made an announcement that I obviously missed, welcoming patrons with as many packages as they could possibly carry to bring them in at the exact time I needed to have my own parcel weighed. The line moved excruciatingly slowly. My mood turned edgy, then annoyed. The longer it took, the angrier I became. When I got to the counter — finally! — I concluded my business quickly and curtly and strode past the line that was now extending past the front door.

“Excuse me,” I said, trying not to be too pushy. Several people had to shift to make room for me to get to the exit.

I strode out grumbling under my breath about inefficiency and how I was going to be late getting to my dentist appointment. I was scowling as I headed into the parking lot.

A woman was coming across the lot in my direction. She was walking with determination, each step pounding the ground like a mini-jackhammer. I noticed that her brow was tightly furrowed and she looked as if she could breathe fire. It stopped me in my tracks. I recognized myself and it wasn’t pretty. Had I looked like that? Her body language said that she was having a really rough day. My anger melted away. I wished I could wrap her in a hug but I was a stranger. So I did what I could in the brief minute before she barreled past me — I smiled. In the space of a second everything changed. I could tell that she was startled, then somewhat confused. Then her face softened and her shoulders relaxed. I saw her take a deep breath. Her pace slowed and she smiled back at me as we passed each other.

I continued to smile all the way to my car. Wow, I thought. Look what a simple smile can do.

The rest of the day felt like a meditation on smiling. I became aware of people’s expressions and my own, of the way we show our emotions so plainly. Now I use that awareness on an everyday basis, letting it remind me that when I am fighting the world, or see someone else in that position, I can try a smile. More often than not, the energy of the moment shifts with that one little gesture. The smile on the outside turns inward and the day becomes new again, turning a bright face toward the activities that are yet to come.

~Ferida Wolff

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