A smile for everyone

A smile for everyone

October 23, 2018 10 By Linda V. Lind

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Good morning, my lovelies.

The clock says 04.07am, I’ve pretty much been awake since midnight, listening to the storm outside, while not feeling quite right. I have this weird feeling that the slight nausea, the headache and the nose, that isn’t really snotty, but not completely clear either is going to turn into a cold.

That really doesn’t happen to me! I’m the kind of person that can sit next to you, nursing you through the flu and not get infected myself. My immune system kicks ass!

Unless I’ve been pushing myself too hard or I’m just simply stressed out. Then I get these cold and flu-like symptoms that are there to remind me to sloooooow doooown.

And it’s never convenient.

N.E.V.E.R.

I guess, you could argue that it’s a good thing then, that this only happens very rarely. But I still had 2 blogposts in mind for later today – this is actually a third!! – I have work on Wednesday and I have an important meeting sceduled at work, that I pretty much took initiative to myself – so I’ll probably end up doing what I usually do: push through the preliminary symptoms, ignoring the signs – and quite possibly become sick in a matter of 2-3 days… I can almost set my clock to these reactions.

So, before I wind up in bed feeling miserable about myself, expecting my own premature “death by cold” – hey, girls can get manflus too! – let’s talk about something positive.

Smiling!

Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.

Mother Theresa

I don’t know from which part of the world, you are reading this. But I will tell you a little something about the socalled happiest nation on the planet; Denmark. Or rather, about it’s inhabitants, the Danes. Actually, we used to be the happiest, I think Finland stole the trophy on this one. But never you mind, because it’s really not the point.

If you visit these green forests, golden fields and blue coasts of ours, you might be in for a surprice, if you too have heard the rumour of the happiest nation on the planet. Because even though we have the entire concept of hygge, a term that only roughly translates into cozyness but is much more than that, we tend to be a quite reserved people. If you get on the public transport you will see this very clearly. Unlike some other nations, we actually avoid sitting next to each other – even to some extend avoid eye contact. It’s not that we don’t like you, we just have a deep appreciation for our personal spaces. If the bus is nearly empty and you get on board and sit on the same seat as me, I will probably start wondering if I’m about to get robbed or raped. There are exceptions of course, there are always exceptions, but we are a reserved nation of people that can be rather cautious towards strangers. It’s when you get to know us, you’ll see our laughter, our smiles – and really comprehend what hygge is.

I don’t know exactly why this is. Maybe it’s some nationwide psychological trauma after having lost huge territories throughout the history, or being occupied by Germany during WW2, but I’ll illustrate with an example that shows you both the normality and the exceptions:

Last Wednesday, heading home after work, the bus driver was a particulary happy bus driver. As soon as he opened the entry door, he greeted his soon-to-be-passengers with a clear “Hello and welcome”, complete with smiles and eye contact. I loved him instantly! As I got on, sitting uncomfortably close to someone I didn’t know, because the bus was nearly packed, and the bus took off, I also discovered that just before he opened the entry door at each new stop, he opened the back doors and wished every passenger getting off the bus a very good day. Even among busdrivers this is so rare, so don’t expect it, but just appreciate it, if you do see it.

I was on the bus for roughly 30 minutes. Not one – not a single passenger getting off the bus – took the two seconds to wish him a good day too. They just got off and went on with their busy busy busy scedules. This bothered me a great deal. I’m trained in customer service and I know how hard it can be to stay positive, when everyone else is fucking frowning and glooming with their heads up their asses. But he kept to it. Wishing people a good day and welcoming his next customers. So I made the decision, that when it was my turn to get off the bus, I would wish him a very good day as clearly as I could. Now, remember, I’m introvert as fuck and just got off work with an exhausted mind (you can read about this in How to make recovery easier), so I started to get really anxious, because the bus was still packed and it felt like back in the days when I had to do a public speaking at the university for all the new students. However, my turn came, I got up, dinged my travel card and took a deeeeep breath as the bus slowed down to a hault. Doors opened. From the front of the bus came “Have a good day, miss!”, I met his eyes and his smile in his rearview mirror and smiled back and out came “and a veRY GOOD DAY TO YOU SIR!”.

The caps are on purpose!

You see, my voice started low and I got afraid he wouldn’t hear it, so I basically shouted the last part! He literally jumped in his seat. So did the passengers standing close to me. His smile turned broad and he said “Thank you so much!” and opened the entry doors, as I got out.

Now why is it that something as simple and pure as a smile, as politeness, can be so difficult? I don’t believe we’ve lost the ability, but somehow, somewhere down the poorly lit roads of history, it’s become a thing, we only share with a selected few, the inner circle, our usual confidants.

Maybe we just gotta get back in the habit – like quitting smoking, we need to quit frowning. So how can we get there? I’ll share with you a few things, I will – or already have – commit myself to.

  1. Smile at your own reflection in the morning. This is somewhat similar to the exercise in “Day of Selfindulgence”, except you don’t have to verbally praise yourself. You just have to smile. Not even for several minutes. Just a compassionate smile to the reflection of the lovely person you are. Start there.
  2. Smile at one specific person, you see daily, but normally don’t engage with. This could be the bus driver, the person at the check out in the grocery store or the receptionist or distant collegue at work. It doesn’t matter if it is the same person from day to day, this is more about you getting used to smiling in that specific situation. Just once a day – for starters.
  3. Set yourself goals – three strangers a day should be blessed with your smile. If you are an introvert, this might seem like a big task, especially if you don’t get out much. Then start with two! It may seem a bit odd at first to keep scores with how much and to how many you smile, but it will, rather quickly, show you if this is something you need to work on. And the big bonus is, as you get used to it, it will become easier and more natural – and you will forget keeping scores, because you just smile a lot more. You just can’t help yourself!
  4. Notice the smiles YOU get. From the first smile in the mirror up until you have a smile for everyone passing your way, notice the smiles you get. I am going to bet, that in the end, you will meet more smiles, than when you started out in the first place. I will also bet, that the increased frequency of received smiles will have affected your general mood.

I would like to have a smile for everyone passing my way. But let’s be honest, we all do have good days and bad days. However, I have a little theory, that bad days can be a little less bad, if you – even in pain – can spare a smile to a stranger. It takes two seconds.

Some people sulk and frown, because the food in the cafeteria was bad. Others because they are fighting illness or dealing with recent hardship, life sometimes throws upon us. There can be perfectly good reasons for not smiling and no one should feel guilty for not doing so – unless the food in the cafeteria makes you spread venom to everyone in your path the rest of the day, then you should honestly and most sincerely get the fuck over yourself.

But really, think about it – if we saw a few more smiles on a regular basis, what would that do to us? And don’t forget, smiling is actually a free gift you can bless people with!

So I’m heading for The Smiling Boot Camp – and I will encourage you to tag along.

As always, I’d love to hear from you, so any good stories, where someone changed your day with a smile or positive attitude, any ideas on how to practise that smiling – or just saying “Hi” – throw me a line or two or more in the comments below. Share the sunshine, share the love!

Have an amazing day

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This post is a part of my “Happy October” series, that started October 1st with “Litter boxes and rainbows”. You can get notifications on new posts, by subscribing to lindavlind.dk in the sidebar. Wanna see the other posts of Happy October, you just click the tag “Happy October” in the sidebar or use the search bar. Feel free to comment or share your own rays of sunshine in the section below.

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