Monday, April 24, 2017

You're Never Fully Dressed without a Smile?

Throughout the semester, I create a huge number of PowerPoint slides. Sometimes, they're basic, sometimes they're fun and sometimes, they have more information on them than they should.

At the top of the deck for each class is what I call the "orientation slide," which tells my students what we're covering that day (a sometimes overly optimistic list), what they should be reading and what's coming up. I've gotten into the habit of adding a visual component to this slide in the form of a meme or photo in the upper left hand corner (much as I do here), both to balance out the text and to lighten the to-do list burden a bit.

Because I teach child and adolescent development, the visual is often a cute kid photo, but sometimes, especially toward the end of the semester, I aim for encouragement and inspiration. Toward that end, I posted the graphic above from the Live Happy website on last week's slides. Later today, I'll be on the hunt for something for tomorrow's slides.

Those of you who know me in real life know that I'm usually a pretty positive person -- someone who can find a reason to smile in most circumstances. Lately, though, that's been a challenge. I still have all of the usual things to be grateful for, but in the midst of them, my mom is sick and the realities of her illness have come crashing down around me. Despite my firm belief in the value of optimism, my smiles took a hiatus last week, and I had to borrow a few from those who were willing to share.

We all go through those periods -- those times when it seems as though even pasting on a fake smile is too much work. If we're lucky, we have people around us who understand -- people who share their smiles, hugs and patience with us when we feel as though we're out of all three. Ironically, that, more than anything, should provide us with a reason to smile.

But sometimes, we have to take matters into our own hands.

So, if your Monday is gray and rainy -- literally, figuratively or both -- try to find your smile. If you can't manage to dig one up, get out there and borrow one, whether it's from the person who holds the door for you at the grocery store, the barista who makes your coffee or the dumb joke you hear on the radio. If your smile remains elusive -- and some days it will -- and all you can manage is soaking in someone else's grin, go ahead. Borrow freely and often. Just remember that someday, it will be your turn to return the favor.

But take your time. Smiles are always in season. And wherever you go, you're likely to find someone who needs one.

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