Smile Power

Smile Power

Surprises can be good, bad, or just downright ugly.   I have yet to decide if I like surprises or if they are just something I have come to expect, tolerate and strive endlessly to prepare for.  The irony is that I almost always fail to be prepared when the surprise inevitably comes.

I am smart, wise, and  have an extraordinary intuitive sense. Consequently, I have come to expect a great deal from the world.  I expect to know  what is going to happen next. I expect to be prepared for anything. I expect to react perfectly and appropriately when a “surprise” comes because I am smart enough to know it was coming.  There really are no surprises anymore because I know what everyone planning ahead of time.  I am wise to everyone’s motives and behaviors.  Before anything happens, I have figured it all out.   I know what gift is going to be bought, what plans are being made, how someone is going to react and what the next move is going to be.   I am all over the hints, innuendos and behaviors of those around me.    I just KNOW it all….. but I don’t really!

The need to figure everything out stems from fear.  It’s the fear of losing control, the fear of not being able to react perfectly and respond exactly the way I would want to in any situation.  It’s the fear of not feeling confident or not appearing “wise and wonderful”.    The irony is that we are our best, true selves in those moments when we are NOT confident, controlled and scripted.   It is at those times when we are most human, showing our faults and weaknesses when we are most respected and trusted.    It is in those moments when we simply embrace being simply human.

I laugh at myself constantly.  The more consumed I become with life and it’s to do lists, the more mistakes I make… .and silly ones too!   I have made coffee without the coffee.  I have put the cereal box in the refrigerator.  I have walked the dog twice in the same hour and I can’t begin to guess at how many times I could not remember unplugging my hair styling appliances before leaving the house!

With age and added responsibility, I become more absent-minded.   Sometimes on a Saturday, my brain turns off completely.  I walk in a fog and do really silly things.   In those brain-fogs, I can’t make a decision if my life depends on it.    My brain needs a rest.    In those crazy, brain-dead moments,  surprises are most effective.  In those moments, when my wall  is down and I’m not paying attention, when I’m not firing all cylinders, those around  me can do essentially anything and pull it off without me suspecting a thing ahead of time!

Years ago, brain fogs did not happen in the same way, with anywhere near the same frequency.   Years ago, when I had a brain lapse, I would reprimand myself.   Today, I laugh it off.   I hope others can laugh lightheartedly  and I encourage them to laugh with me.   I am more eager for the laughter and smiles than approval.   I am no longer striving to be accepted.  I am striving to be happy.   If forgetting to add cheese to the grilled cheese is what will make others laugh and have a funny story to share, then I  have given a gift worth far more than any lesson I could learn for messing up my lunch!

One of the best things we learn as we get older is that it just simply doesn’t matter anymore.   The everyday stuff that consumes us with worry and stress is just not what is most important.    Striving to be perfect and in control is only adding stress to our lives and the lives of those around us.  Today, let’s just celebrate who we are.  Let’s embrace our idiosyncracies, set new goals and figure out a new way to live our lives.  Let’s laugh at ourselves and at each other with no other purpose than to laugh.   Let’s smile and appreciate ourselves and each other.  We need to cherish and respect who we are,  together and on our own.

Bring on the surprises!   Our ability to smile and laugh is our greatest gift.   No matter how hard we work to control our lives and what happens around us, no one and nothing can ever surpass the power of a smile.

Until next time, be happy and have some uncommon sense! 🙂

Unselfishly Selfish

Unselfishly Selfish

A few years back, I sat in the driver’s seat of my car and told my young daughter that the most unselfish acts in the world are essentially selfish ones. She gave me a look then that would make you giggle.   “Oh Mama”, she said, “you make my brain hurt!”

I laughed in the moment then and went on to explain that we do good deeds to feel good, because we get something back in return. The end goal is always our benefit, otherwise we would not do it.  It’s for certain that we would not do it again!

Happiness is not as complicated as it seems. Really it isn’t!  If, I told her, we do things for others because we feel good, then why not do even more?  It seems to me, the more we do for others, the more we benefit and the happier we feel. It follows that we will want to do even more because we are just basically selfish and strive to make ourselves the happiest we can be.

At a time where the world is in an ever-increasing state of unrest, we focus on war, violence and hate. Daily we push our way to the front of the line and close traffic gaps to not let anyone merge into our lane. We grab the last item on the shelf before anyone else, if it is the object of our desire. We don’t return shopping carts to their rightful place, for fear of losing those few valuable moments that could be used elsewhere. We pay no heed to the potential damage that could ensue. What do we care? Why should we care?  These things won’t affect us!  We WILL get to the front of the line. We won’t get delayed by that ONE car we let in front of us. We don’t starve because we did beat that sad old lady to get that last can of tomatoes. We were able to save valuable time by not having to return that shopping cart!  That cart won’t roll into the side of MY car! It’s not MY problem now.

What about the counter top in the public washroom left saturated with water after your son washed his hands?  Someone gets paid to clean that, after all. You ARE helping someone stay employed. You are a GOOD contributing member of society!  You were able to get your son to clean his hands. You are a GREAT parent!  You saved TIME. You are wise AND efficient!   You are a benefit to society. You should be given a medal!  You have set such a great example and know that your son will grow up to be just like you. Lucky you!  You must be so proud of your accomplishments! Well, maybe not so much!

A dear friend once gave me a solid bit of advice that has stuck with me for years.  He said, “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”  I had no idea then how many times these same words would echo in my mind. I used to roll my eyes at his endless, repetitive ranting, but his words rang true then as they do now.

So maybe instead of pushing our way to the front of the line, we take our time to meet a new friend through the wait.  Instead of taking the last item on the shelf at the grocery store, we let the old lady spend her remaining pension money for her dinner.  Perhaps instead of leaving the cart in the parking lot, you return it to its carousel so Fred doesn’t have to pay for the car repairs out of his last pay cheque.  As for the sink in the washroom, why not just tidy up after yourself?  Perhaps you will save someone grief, perhaps you will save someone from damaging a new suit. Maybe, a good deed and some uncommon sense might just make someone smile.

In a hard world full of anger and violence, the gift of a smile is a great one and nets a far greatest rate of return than being first!  Go ahead and make yourself happy.  Be selfish and give because it is, of course, all about you.

Be happy. Give a lot. Love “for all you’re worth”.

Until next time, have some uncommon sense.