When did you last make someone smile?
I don’t stop and ask myself that question often. Sometimes the answer can be encouraging, if it was recent. Other times it can be sobering, if it’s been a while. A lot of the time, I don’t even think about it.
We’re often so preoccupied with keeping ourselves happy that we can overlook others. Whether it’s because we’re too busy to notice others need cheering up, we don’t want to cheer them up for some reason, or we just don’t know how, missing an opportunity to make someone smile is sad.
After a difficult conversation with a friend recently, I was reminded of how much the world needs smiles. There’s so much going on. So much hurt, division, conflict, pain, and suffering. When we’re overwhelmed with it all, the last thing we feel like doing – or feel like helping others do – is to smile.
But it’s often one of the things we need most.
It’s amazing how much smiling can turn a day around. Even if we don’t feel like it, some experts advise forcing yourself to smile for a set amount of time anyway. Often, the action of smiling makes us feel happier, which leads to genuine smiles.
But despite the emotional benefits from smiling, it’s less about the smiling itself, and more about the cause of those smiles.
There are plenty of reasons to cry, be angry, or lose hope, and those seem to be the loudest reasons much of the time. We tend to notice and fixate on the bad things first, until we’re out of energy to seek out the good.
That’s where other people come in. That’s where we come in for others.
Sometimes we need other people to show us those reasons to smile. To lift our spirits through kind words, fun activities, hopeful reminders, and silly actions.
Sometimes hurts are too deep and too fresh to allow smiles. That’s okay. I’m not saying people that are suffering and not smiling are choosing that. And I’m also not saying that simply smiling will fix everything.
But through many of the tough situations and trials that we face in life, smiling can make them just a little bit better. Or a lot.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Be the reason someone smiles today.” I love that reminder. It’s doable. It’s hopeful. It’s purposeful.
We don’t need to make everyone smile. We don’t need to solve someone’s every problem and fix everything for them. We don’t need to be superheroes or geniuses.
We just need to have a heart and use it to lighten others’.
There are few feelings better than to have made someone smile, particularly if they were having a bad day before. Often, it doesn’t take much effort to achieve, but the rewards last – for us and for the other person.
Someone making you smile, putting in the effort to cheer you up or make your day better, means that someone cares. It means you’re not alone. You’re not hopeless. You’re not left to endure life without some happiness.
It can be as simple as complimenting someone, offering to help with something, sending someone a kind ‘thinking of you’ text or hand-written note, playing a game or doing a fun activity, or just being silly in a way you know will lift their spirits.
Smiling is healing. Again, for the person smiling, and the person who helped them smile. The world needs a lot more genuine smiles.
And I truly do think there could be a lot more smiles to go around if we all focused on them more. Focused on being polite, kind, decent, thoughtful, courteous, friendly, and generous. Focused less on looking silly and more on brightening someone’s day.
I’ve been blessed to have many people in my life that do this kind of thing easily. Wherever they go, they make people smile. They bring joy. They genuinely make others’ days better.
I want to be that kind of person more and more. I want people to be able to look forward to seeing me because they’ll know they’ll feel better about life afterward. I want to be joyful, and inspire joy.
And that doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t experience emotions like sadness, guilt, or anger. That’s a part of life for now, and feeling those things should be understood and dealt with in a healthy way, not shamed.
But you head where you’re focused, and I think that if more people focused on smiles and joy, there would be a lot more smiling and joyful people.
Let’s each do our part, as best we can, to make the people we’re around each day smile.
Don’t be afraid to take the first step, speak up, look a little silly, and smile often.
It’s worth it.
Therefore encourage one another
and build each other up,
just as in fact you are doing.
(1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV)