Life is worthwhile if you just smile

I smile more to gain ... less.

As cheesy as it may sound, I have just started smiling more. (To be honest, my life is pretty great right now). I smile when I wake up early in the morning, when I see the sun rising, when I am preparing dinner, when I am spending time with people I love.

I smile when I walk to my car and take in a view of the sky, albeit knowing I will be driving my kids around for the next three hours to activities. However, I can take this time to talk with them, to play fun music or even mitigate the arguments among them. Adding these smiles to all parts of my day have slowly, over time, shifted my perspective.

I smile more to gain less stress. That car driving slow in front of me when I am in a hurry? There is nothing I can do to control it. If something doesn’t go as planned, I am more relaxed. If I start to get worried about handling the workload from my job and grad school, I take a step back and break it into pieces to tackle. I smile at my good fortune that I have a job and am educating myself so I can pursue my dream job one day.

I smile more to gain less rudeness. I smile when I am on the phone setting appointments, calling about my credit card bill or booking hotels. I smile via Zoom meetings when I am presenting my work. And the best part is when I “hear” a smile in return. (My secret mission is to get the person on the other end of the line smiling back.)

I smile more to gain less sadness. When I am angry, overwhelmed, or tired — definitely a daily thing in my life — I look outside, take a breath and, yes, add in a cheesy smile. It does make me feel better and appreciate all the things that are going well in my life.

I smile more to give thanks. I try to thank as many people as I possibly can who contribute to my day in any way, with a smile. Even with masks on, a smile almost always can be heard and seen. There is an art to “going first.” Go first to say hello, go first to hold a door and definitely go first with a smile, even if you may not get one back. It is a small risk to take and one that, when returned, feels great.

I smile more to give respect. No matter your private beliefs, political views or personal agendas, doesn’t everyone deserve respect? They do. And yes, you do, too.

So, smile now and pass one along.

— Mistie Psaledas of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].