Renegade Smiler

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This past week, I visited my grandson in Brooklyn to celebrate his second birthday.  As I walked the streets of New York, I became keenly aware that as a southern, smiley, blonde girl, I stood out like a sore thumb. From what I have gathered, the unspoken rule of engagement in New York is basically, don’t look at anyone and certainly don’t smile at anyone. Just move forward, walk briskly and don’t engage.

I smiled anyway! I suppose I shocked a few people, but I also detected some people were simply grateful for the connection. Several people managed to eek out a return smile, although I could tell they felt a little uncomfortable.

Humans need connection. A sincere smile can serve as a way to reach into the life of someone who feels lonely or discouraged or thinks that all the world is against her. When we smile, we reassure others that there is hope in the world. A smile speaks love, and can lift the heart of another.

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My grandson’s smiles were contagious, sweet and refreshingly honest. As I looked into his face filled with joy and laughter, I wondered how we as adults have come to lose our ability to smile so freely. Weren’t we created to smile? Aren’t we meant to share happiness with one another? Why don’t we do it? Are we bogged down with too many cares, worries and woes? Are distractions, self-centeredness or busyness the culprits?

I’m not saying we should garnish a fake smile; people can see through that in a New York minute (forgive the pun). We must be honest with our emotions, and if we need to cry, then cry. Trust me, I’m no stranger to grief and have done my fair share of crying over the past few months especially.

Yes, we need to grieve, but we must also look for opportunities to lift up others with a gift from our heart that stretches across our face. Studies show that when we smile, we actually increase the happy hormones in our brains. Make yourself happier, as well as those around you, by taking the two ends of your lips and moving them upwards. Share the love God has put in your heart, by blessing another person with the warmth of your smile. And by the way, you’ll look better too!

 

Photo by Kevin Rajaram on Unsplash

Realistically Optimistic

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It’s easy to think that positive people are simply pie in the sky, superficially blissful. The truth is, that a sincerely optimistic person sees the real picture, but chooses to look at the upside instead of focusing on the negatives. Each of us can decide to be sensibly optimistic, or persistently pessimistic. Here’s a few principles to help us live with a brighter outlook.

Look at the Big Picture.  Ever been to a movie where you sat on the front row? Everything looks ginormous and blurry. But when you sit in the middle of the theater, you get a better perspective as you see the whole picture. Life challenges can seem overwhelmingly large at times, but step back and look at the situation in light of the bigger picture and you can have a calmer and wiser viewpoint.

Take one step at a time.  When we are facing a mountain in front of us, it may seem as though we will never be able to scale the heights. Yet if we take one small step forward, establish our footing and take the next step we will make progress. The key is not running to the top, but rather taking gradually steps upward to get where we are going.

Assess Your Assets.  It’s easy to focus on our weaknesses and feel as though we are making an accurate assessment of the situation. It is true that we each have weaknesses that need to be dealt with, but more important, we each have strengths that need to employed. Let’s take measure of our strengths and the assets, build on them and focus on how to use our gifts to the best of our abilities.

Seek Wise Advice. One of the best ways to stay grounded is to listen to wise counsel. We don’t want to allow someone to zap our hope and drain our dreams, but it is important to listen to other perspectives in order to make wise decisions. The wisdom of others can help us maintain a levelheaded optimism as we move forward with our goals.

Living life with a positive outlook, doesn’t mean we are impractical or unrealistic. On the contrary, we can choose to live with a confidence and boldness, knowing that we see the obstacles and are ready to face them head on with thoughtfulness and hope.

True Positive: Day 14 – Laughter

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Laughter is good medicine! In the busyness of life, sometimes we forget to add a cheerful chuckle into our day. When you face a disappointment or make a mistake, yes you need to feel frustrated, but you can typically find the humor in the situation as well. If you look for the bright side of things, you will typically find it! Everyone needs a good guffaw now and then. Victor Hugo said, “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”

Without a doubt, a good dose of humor levels some of the bumps in life and lightens the load of our day-to-day routine. When is the last time you had a good hearty laugh? Make the decision today that you will intentionally look for the delightful and funny side of the circumstances in your life. Be honest and realistic, but also allow yourself the freedom to smile and giggle. You will be surprised by the joy of walking on the sunny side of life.

 

Genuine laughing is the vent of the soul, the nostrils of the heart,

and it is just as necessary for health

and happiness as spring water is for a trout.

Josh Billings

 

 

A cheerful heart is good medicine,

But a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22 NIV

 

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

True Positive: Day 12 – Work

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Our work can bring us joy, enrich our lives and even increase our positivity. Projects, chores or responsibilities give us a sense of accomplishment and commitment to a greater cause. Work often gives us the opportunity to serve others and to get our minds off of our own self-centered problems. We learn and grow as a person through hard work and perseverance. Certainly, we must be careful to keep a balance in life and not take on too many responsibilities which may increase stress. Additionally, we must avoid complaining and grumbling – which we will talk about in tomorrow’s post.

Let’s teach out kids that work is not something to be avoided, but rather something to be embraced. Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ (Colossians 3:23,24).” Find joy in your work by thinking of your work as an opportunity to serve Christ. When you have down days (which we all do), ask God to give you a fresh viewpoint or a new perspective to help you see a greater purpose in your work.

Some of the happiest people I know are also some of the hardest working people I know. Don’t avoid work, embrace it and discover a new strength and confidence as a result.