On smiling

people and relationships, society

[I had originally published this pensive note on my usually joke-filled “Smile List” e-mail newsletter sometime around 1997, and since I enjoyed a rather positive response, I thought I’d share it also on my site here.? Enjoy! — Adam ]

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Today the topic is SMILING, something that — logically enough — is at the heart of my Smile List. So today, we take a break from jokes… to think about things that make us smile in other ways.

A few weeks ago, I was leisurely enjoying ice cream at a small family owned Italian ice cream shop here in Germany. Sharing the wonderful rich dessert with a good friend made it worth every penny for this non-discount treat. We could tell, too, that the waiter (the son of the owner) not only had great pride in the delights he was serving, but also enjoyed the atmosphere of relaxed and happy customers.

The three of us engaged in pleasant chatter for a bit, and when it was time to pay, I gave him a small tip in German money (as is customary), but also added a U.S. dollar bill. He was confused but excited and handed it back to me, but I assured him he could keep it. His glowing smile still sticks with me today… such happiness from a little gesture. He shook my hand — repeatedly — and walked with my friend and me to the door as we exited, still smiling broadly.

Fast forward to yesterday. It was a cold and stormy day… not much good for anything, it seemed. Determined to make the best of my free Saturday, I invited a good friend to join me… first shopping, and then cooking a warm, creative meal, combined with good wine. And… rich vanilla ice cream, this time with just a smattering of fine Italian Amaretto. We were cooking and eating and laughing and relaxing for hours… literally hours. As we talked, we both commented how it seems people don’t take the time to relax… enjoy the little things, savor the ‘small’ moments. In this era of in-your-face movies, pounding music, 60 hour work weeks, why are we not more often content to sip wine with friends, sit and wonder, ponder, chat about little and big things, and just savor a few unstructured moments?

And when was the last time you took a bath? I did, this morning :-). I had forgotten how peaceful it is, how much it makes me smile.

In this world, there are great people doing great things. Great sammaritans, famous doctors, brilliant artists. But too often, we forget about the power of little people… everyday individuals… and little things.

From a few simple lines I typed here a while back in the Smile List, over 100 of you sent get-well wishes to my friend Moni. She’s recently been able not only to walk just fine, but also rollerblade, and she’s now working and traveling in Asia via an intership there. Your warm thoughts meant a lot to her, and perhaps even helped speed the healing process.

Lots of you, too, sent cards to my grandparents, wishing them a happy 60th anniversary and Grandparents’ Day… from all over the world.

Every day, we have the options to do little, simple things to make ourselves and others smile. Do it. Give someone a random hug. Cook a fun or fancy meal — without a ‘reason’. Give an extra-generous tip. Treat yourself to a GOOD chocolate bar. Maybe even share it 🙂

And I hope, in sharing these thoughts with you, that there’ll be a few more smiles spread around. I wish you a wonderful week ahead, and promise more humor comin’ to you on the Smile List soon. In the meantime, don’t forget to visit my SmileZone, and feel free to post a few thoughts on the things that make YOU smile (or you can even just read what others have written). Go to http://www.smilezone.com/talk, and then from there you’ll know what to do 🙂

Take care…

–Adam

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