My dad mentioned at dinner recently a quote my grandfather (my mother’s dad) had been known to say:
“Put a smile on your face. It’ll cost you nothing and you’re likely to get one in return”.
I scrambled for a scrap of paper to jot this down, not because it was so earth shattering in its profoundness, but because it was so simple.
At least, it seems so simple.
But if you’re someone like me, who suffers from a “symptom” known as RBF, you’ll find that this is so much harder to do in actuality. Have you seen the Grumpy Cat memes?
Insert my face above.
This is a topic that’s been discussed in my Life Management class in the past when we first discuss and research common personality types according to the Myers-Briggs classification or the Jung Typology Test. (Go ahead…you know you want to check out your type now….I’ll be right here waiting when you get done 😉 )
As an introvert, who’s often forced into the role of extrovert (I’m a high school teacher after all), it can be challenging to say the least and downright overwhelming and exhausting, both physically and emotionally, to appear friendly and sociable. Even though I am. Truly.
My face paints a different picture.
Sullen, tired (ok, that part is actually true), angry, depressed, and/or physically ill (also sometimes true) are what my face belies. It would probably never be described as “one that lights up a room” or is “contagiously upbeat” even though I consider myself an optimist…at least in the long run.
So the notion of fully embracing the idea of being a smiling, charismatic, beam of sunshine often eludes me. Not because I’m not happy – just because it’s not in my nature to walk around smiling. (If I suddenly DID do this, people would wonder again what was wrong with me? Or ask what I might be on…).
My grandpa, on the other hand, IS this jovial, joking, story-telling, larger-than-life figure of a man. He may be 94, but he’s still telling those same stories of fun, telling jokes and retelling about pranks and shenanigans from his youth. Yet even he takes on a serious face at times, more so recently, I’m sure reminiscing the long and well-lived life he’s had and certainly missing the love of his life.
Grandpa may not have always had it right – just ask any one of his 7 children. He was human after all, IS human, despite the character that is portrayed in his stories. Yet he knows what is important and how despite our initial reactions to things that happen in life, despite our current situation, and in spite of our Grumpy Face demeanor, we all could use a little sunshine, a ray of hope in the shape of a smile from time to time.
As this new year dawns on us, I won’t vow a resolution, as that would surely end in disappointment (I AM an optimist….I swear! But I’m also a realist and I know I stink at keeping new habits). What I will do is take some of these life lessons to heart, as I never know for just how long I’ll be able to hear these pearls of wisdom, especially from the man himself.
I want to smile more, from true inner joy (I believe that’s coming….I just got to have faith and let God do the rest).
But for now, even if it’s just from an attempt to make someone else’s day better, whether I know them personally or not, I want to smile more.
It’ll cost me nothing. And maybe, I’ll even get one in return.