There are more sources for comedy than ever before with online video platforms, social media memes, and GIFs, yet people aren’t happier. In fact, depression and suicide statistics that are increasing all the time show us that people are sadder and more hopeless than previous generations. No program, hotline number, or amount of money or worldly goods will make society happier. Happiness is a condition of heart that is created by connection, purpose, truth, and hope.
Love Like Dianne
Years ago, while attending an event for my son, I saw my friend Dianne do something in just a few short minutes that gave my daughter, Londyn, connection, purpose, truth, and hope. Dianne was in charge of a multi-day event that hosted hundreds of boys for training on how to be a knight of freedom. She was scheduled to speak to the boys and their parents on the final evening right before the final event. Shortly before her speech, she noticed me and my youngest children playing on the playground. Londyn was four years old and Porter was two.
When she saw us, she casually came over and climbed onto the playground. She smiled at me. I smiled back. She smiled at Porter and got him to smile. And then she smiled at Londyn and sat down next to her. Londyn, who normally wasn’t comfortable around people she didn’t know, seemed to feel instantly easy with Dianne. Dianne started asking her things about what she liked and what games she played with her baby brother. Then Dianne started playing on the toys with Londyn. It was as if Dianne was a child and just knew exactly what Londyn wanted to do next. They talked and played and I watched with great interest as this grown woman didn’t even seem to notice me. She only noticed Londyn. Everyone felt comfortable and loved.
After a few minutes of play time, one of Dianne’s assistants came to tell her that they needed her to come speak to the group now. So, Dianne said, “Londyn, it was so nice to play with you and get to know you better. I’ve got to go play with some other people now. I hope I get to talk to you again sometime.” She climbed down from the play set and smiled at me. Then she said, “Nicholeen, you have such beautiful, thoughtful children.” And she walked off to speak.
Dianne is probably one of the sincerest people I know. She doesn’t fake who she is to impress people. She doesn’t seek for advantage. She just loves everyone she’s with. I was always the kind of mother who played and talked with my children, but I was inspired that day to bring some Dianne into every play time, work time, and moment of my life.
Dianne connected with all of us by smiling. She connected with Londyn by looking into her eyes, talking and listening to her, and playing. This moment of connection gave Londyn the truthful message that she was valuable. Dianne didn’t talk to her mommy, she talked to her. Dianne didn’t even seem to see anyone else around her but Londyn. It was very clear that Dianne thought Londyn was important enough to stop everything she was doing and ignore everyone else around her just to spend time with Londyn. Londyn was more comfortable with adults after this encounter. Dianne showed her truth that adults and people she didn’t know didn’t have to be scary. In this one brief connective moment, Dianne helped Londyn find more purpose as a young girl and have hope that the world was a safe place. And, it all started with a smile.
Smiles Can Heal Hearts and Bring Hope
In a recent Facebook live post, Hollywood producer and writer, John Paul Rice, blew a whistle on corporate America protecting child traffickers. He spoke openly about the pain many children are facing because of the child trafficking culture we live in. He admitted to not being raised well himself, but said that a sincere and loving smile to a child could be a great gift of hope in a dark world.
In addition to Mr. Rice’s exposure of a horrific social problem that exploits children sexually in his movie, there are other reasons people feel like they’re living in darkness these days. Anxiety, depression, loneliness, lies, fractured family bonds, and much more lead children and families into dark corners of their minds, but a smile has the power to bring a person to the surface to see the light.
Smiles tell someone that they’re important, that you care about them, that life can be good for them, that they make the world a better place by being in it, and that love and light casts out fear, loneliness, and pain.
We should smile more.
This week, set a goal for how many people you will smile at each day, and you will probably exceed your goal. Why? Because smiling feels good. In fact, it lightens the owner of the smile as well as the person being smiled at. Over time, you will become addicted to looking for goodness and smiling. Yes, smiling increases gratitude by helping us acknowledge the good people and circumstances in our lives. I know some days may seem like there isn’t anything good to smile at, but deciding to smile at a person, even if it’s just yourself in the mirror, will lighten your mood and make you more grateful to be alive.
Start now! See how you feel and the connection you experience when you smile at the next person you see. Deciding to smile is an act of self-government. It’s a deliberate choice to make your day and your life better. What if smiles could help everyone feel more in control?
Learn other self-government lessons by visiting Nicholeen’s Teaching Self-Government Website.