Laughter, one of the attributes that make us human, is seen to be more and more important to our individual well-being.
Babies start laughing when they are only a few months old, but they smile before that. Some babies can even be seen smiling in a sonogram before they are born! One might say our lives begin with a smile.
So what happens? What brings us so far down that, at times, we cannot muster a smile?
I remember my grandmother’s instruction to me as a child, words to tell myself when I was discontented over something: "God give me the grace to put a smile on my face."
But, I thought then, I’m not happy, so why should I smile?
Later, I understood. If we are parents, we are teachers. And if we’re teachers to our children then we had better smile, because if we don’t smile at our children, we pass on that the world is not a good place for them to be and this could become a definite problem for them as adults.
A smile is contagious and it can change attitudes—our own attitude and the attitudes of others. When my family lived in North Alabama, I knew a young woman in my church with seven children. I taught several of the children over the years in religious education classes in our parish. Every one of her children smiled—unceasingly. The first time I met their mother I understood why they did. She smiled, too—at every one! She did not have an easy life, certainly not with seven children less than a year or two apart. But she smiled. And her smiles taught me a lesson.
Though I never accomplished it as well as she did, I tried smiling at my children even in the most frustrating circumstances. And being children, having begun their lives with a smile, they naturally smiled back at me! The frustration disappeared, even if the problem did not. Discipline is much more easily given—and taken—with a smile.
“Peace begins with a smile,” Mother Theresa once said. “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” Did you ever see a picture of Mother Theresa when she wasn't smiling? Even when she was tending the sick and dying, and especially when she was talking about love, she was smiling.
So, I’m starting today. I’m going to smile at everyone today. I’ll let you know what happens. Will you try it, too?
Copyright 2013 Kaye Hinckley
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