Let your mind have some fun…

November 30, 2022

“The mind is like a car battery — it recharges by running.”  (Bill Watterson creator of the Calvin and Hobbs comic)

Accompanying this quote was this write-up about Watterson – Every day, for 10 years, cartoonist Bill Watterson delighted readers with a new story in his beloved syndicated comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes.” But that kind of round-the-clock ingenuity is no easy feat. His secret? Recharging the mind by letting it play. “I’ve had to cultivate a kind of mental playfulness,” Watterson said in the same 1990 commencement speech at Kenyon College where he gave the quote above. “A playful mind is inquisitive, and learning is fun.” In other words, creative ideas come when the mind is encouraged to wander into new areas, exploring wherever your natural curiosity may lead.

I might have phrased the quote differently and added to the second part – “it recharges by running and playing.” Allowing your mind to wander, to play, allows it to explore its creativity. As adults we too often discipline ourselves to stay focused on the tasks at hand. In sports that is often called “mental toughness”. Whether in sports, business or just in our everyday lives, the ability to focus can be helpful but it also can be stifling to our minds. I suspect that the increased incidents of road rage and the general lack of civility today is largely due to people becoming too focused and not allowing their minds any play time.

It’s not that living isn’t serious business. For many in high stress jobs it is very serious and for most the responsibilities that come just with being an adult cause us to take life seriously. But that doesn’t mean that you must or should give up some level of the playfulness that you had as a child. Every now and then on the news you will see a story of kids in a war zone playing and having fun. As adults we may think, “How can they play in the middle of being shot at or bombed, with death and destruction all around them?” They simply have not yet been trained to suppress that need to play physically or mentally. That training will come with age, faster and at a younger age in a war zone.

For those of us not living under conditions like war or grinding poverty or famine, it is important that we allow our minds to recharge by letting it out to play, to stretch itself through our imaginations. I have suggested a way to break the mental tension of being too serious all the time by making a funny face in your mirror each morning as you get ready for the day ahead. It is hard to maintain a serious attitude when you make a face at yourself. Try it and see. Just that small crack in your otherwise serious façade will allow your imagination out to play for an instant and allow your mind a break from the grindstone of seriousness.

You might also be surprised that this small break from seriousness will allow you to approach the happenings of the day and the people that you meet from a different, less somber point of view. Just that little spark of playfulness and imagination may show through in your attitude and that will impact how others perceive you and how you perceive yourself. It may put a smile on your face as you start your day and that will be noticed by those whom you encounter. Just keep thinking of that funny face in the mirror and keep smiling.

Recharge your mental battery this morning. Make a face at yourself in the mirror. Let your mind out to wander about in your imagination. Doesn’t that feel better?

Have a great and less serious day.

Make a wrinkle today…

September 4, 2022

I forget where I saw this quote; perhaps on the Jack’s Winning Words blog or perhaps in one of the emails I get about quotes of famous people, but it just seemed to click with me today – “Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.”  (Mark Twain)

Smiling is not something that happens without thought. If you ever have the chance to see what you look like when you are not consciously trying to look any way at all, you will see that your mien (the natural, relaxed state of your face) is not only not a smile; it is usually not very pleasant looking. It’s not that you are unhappy about anything; it’s just that when our faces relax our faces and lips droop into what can be interpreted as a frown or unhappy look.

Most of us, myself included, aren’t always conscious of what we look like (or what people see in our faces) as we go through the day. That’s why someone may ask you if something is wrong or if you don’t feel well. You can change that by smiling throughout the day.

If nothing else, you may be pleasantly surprised at people’s reactions to seeing you smile as you pass by. They may smile, too. They may even speak to you, because you seem to be a pleasant person who is obviously happy. People may seem to be flocking to you. That is partially because those who avoided you and your frown in the past will now engage with you and partially because people prefer to be around happy people and not sad or down people.

People don’t often ask frowning people to share whatever it is that is making them frown; however, many people will be curious and may ask about what is making you appear to be so happy that you have a smile on your face. Frowners look like they just swallowed a frog, while smilers appear to have just hit the lottery. Which would you rather look like?

So, today, make a wrinkle; make the conscious effort to smile as you go through the day. You may find that it is not easy. We often smile when we think of something that makes us happy. Perhaps if you make the effort to smile, happy thoughts will come to mind. Happiness does seem to feed upon itself.

Make a wrinkle today – SMILE!

Keep them guessing…

July 26, 2022

Today’s quote is a good reminder to sometimes just stay silent and smile – “Always remember: Silence and smile are two very powerful tools.” (Paulo Coelho)

In today’s noisy and often acrimonious world there is way too little silence and too few smiles. Remaining silent in the face of loud complaints or expressions of opinion often gives the other person pause to consider what they just said? Did I not understand what they said or maybe do I not agree? And why am I smiling at them? They just don’t know.

Many times, people who are loudly proclaiming something are really looking for acceptance and reinforcement of their opinion. They do not find that in silence as a response to their rant and that is jarring to their confidence. And then, there is that smile. What does that mean? Am I smiling because I think they just said something that is completely stupid? Maybe I’m just smiling out of pity for someone who can be so far off the mark. They just don’t know.

So, keep Coelho’s advice in mind the next time that you are in a situation, perhaps one that is emotionally charged, that seems to dictate a response from you. Use the most powerful tools that you have – your silence and a smile. Keep them guessing.

There is another saying that applies, too. “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” That saying has been variously attributed to Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln. Seldom these days do people jump to the conclusion that someone who remains silent is a fool. Rather they become concerned that they may have just made a fool of themselves. Keep them guessing.

It’s the same with people, too.

November 18, 2021

Pastor Freed used this quote in his post to his Jack’s Winning Words blog today – “When you look at a strange animal, that animal also thinks that a strange animal is looking at it.”  (Mehmet Murat ildan)

Did you ever wonder at the zoo what all of the animals that you walked around and looked at thought of you? Some may have seen you as potential prey and a tasty meal, which is frightening, but the majority of the animals that you encountered probably were either curious about you or a little frightened by you being there.

There is a similar experience on both sides of any encounter with other human beings. Most of us probably immediately notice any differences between them and us – maybe a different skin color or hair style and color, or maybe the way that they dress. If they speak to us, we note any differences in speech, such as accents. We are at the same time evaluating similarities and trying to find common ground between us; that is, if we are not so fixated upon the differences.

It is important to make an effort to not let immediate impressions dictate how we react upon meeting someone and to take control of our own appearance and mannerisms. Most people are not aware that their “at rest” mien (the face that you are wearing when you are not aware that you are wearing a face) can be very intimidating. It takes a conscious effort to smile and most of us don’t walk around making that effort. The result is usually an at rest face that may look angry or sad or anything but happy and inviting. Sometimes their reaction to your appearance will put them into a guarded mode, which makes it even harder to interact well enough to really get to know them.

So, what is one to do? You can start by adopting the old “innocent until proven otherwise” saw and assume that everyone that you encounter will be someone that you’d really like to get to know better. Some may not prove to be people that you’d want to be BFF’s with; but, you’ll still be better off for having made the effort to “see” them beyond your initial impressions. Unlike at the zoo, there is no little information placard for you to read to learn more about the person that you’ve just met. Taking the time to talk with them is the only way to learn more about them. And remember to smile.

Encountering people who are significantly different from you and your normal circle of friends should be seen as an exciting opportunity and not as a threat. It is through exploring and understanding different points of view and different sources of knowledge that we grow as human beings. You may realize that you’ve never event thought of some things the way that a different person sees them and that may change your perspective, or at least broaden it.

As you wander through this “zoo” that we all live in, take the time and make the effort to really understand those strange other people that you encounter, realizing that they, too, are trying to figure out the strange person in front of them. And remember to smile, you don’t want to scare the strangers off before they’ve even met you.

Hi, how are you?

Be the reason today…

January 23, 2021

I recently saw a license plate holder with the saying “Be the reason that someone smiles today” on it. It started me thinking about how one could be that reason that would put a smile on someone’s face, even though you might not know that person. Aside from dressing up like a clown and walking around like that, there are other reasons why being around you might bring a smile to the face of others.

The most simple way is to have a smile on your face, too. I’ve posted here a few times about our typical “mien”, which is the look on your face or the way that you act when you are unaware. In particular, few of us are aware that our “at rest mien”, the face that we present to the public when we are not trying to do anything, is most of the time not a very inviting or friendly look. In fact, many people look unhappy, sad or even angry when their face is at rest. Most people do not present a smile to the world when they are unaware that anyone is looking, because smiling requires a conscious effort. So, to walk around with a smile on your face would require that you consciously be trying to smile. That’s not a bad thing, since it would force you to think of reasons to smile and probably put you in a better mood to do some of the other things that can bring a smile to the face of others.

You can perform small, random acts of kindness throughout the day. This might be as simple as opening a door for someone or allowing someone to go ahead of you. Just offering a friendly and warm greeting might make someone else’s day better. There are hundreds of opportunities each day for one to do something that will make someone else’s day better or more pleasant. We often overlook those opportunities or ignore them because we are too self-centered on what we are doing or focused upon our own needs. We have read recently about waitresses in various places receiving large tips from people that they didn’t know. The tippers were just doing that to put a smile to their day by doing something extra to relieve their financial anxiety. We can’t all tip in the thousands of dollars, but maybe leaving a 20-25% tip instead of only 10-15% would bring a smile, too. Even something as inexpensive as taking the time to compliment the waitperson on good service might bring that smile to their face. Certainly, taking the extra time to seek out the manager and letting them know what great service your waitperson rendered will bring a smile to their face later.

There are also many things that you could do which might bring smiles that you will never see (but which you can imagine). Things like volunteering to prepare or pack food for distribution through programs like Meals on Wheel or the school food programs Like Blessing in a Backpack are examples. The “behind-the-scenes” people don’t get to see the smiles on the faces of the recipients , but they know they those smiles occur. We don’t ever get to see the people that our donations to organizations like The Salvation Army go to help, but we all probably have imagined that someone, somewhere is going to smile because we dropped that dollar into the bucket. And, you know what? That brings a smile to our face, too.

So, today, walk around thinking of all of the smiles that you can cause. See if that doesn’t motivate you to do some things that you might not have otherwise done. Then, see if that doesn’t make you smile.

As the song says, “Smile and the whole world smiles with you”. Be the reason that someone smiles today!

Be happy; put a smile in your voice…

August 26, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog featured this quote – “Smile when you answer the phone.  The caller will hear it in your voice.”  (Unknown)

Jack went on to write about trying to smile when he answers the phone, even if it is a sales call or a robo call. He even tries to have a pleasant conversation with sales call operators, with mixed results. I must admit that the flood of robo calls has probable taken the smile off my face when I answer the phone; but, I try not to be rude. Sometimes, just hanging up is the only solution to a persistent sales pitch.

The tone of your voice conveys a lot about your attitude at the moment. That is why people will ask if you’re OK when you mumble a frowney face greeting in return toEmoji_Face-with-Pleading-Eyes their cheery, “Hello.” It might just be that you were distracted and lost in thought when they encountered you or perhaps you were thinking about something unpleasant. Whatever the reason, you didn’t have a smile on your face or in your voice.

It takes a conscious effort to wear a smile on your face and to have one in your voice. Most of us have “at rest” faces that are much less inviting that we know. It’s not that we are unhappy or mad, it’s just that we aren’t making the effort to smile, to be happy.

You may ask, what do I have to be happy about; why should I smile? Well, for one; you woman-prayingwoke up again this morning. The alternative might be worthy of a frown. Second, the things and people that God has put into your life again surround you. Surely, those loved ones that you still have bring a smile to your face and fond memories of those that have departed can add to the reasons to smile. Perhaps starting your day with a brief prayer of thanks to God will put that smile on your face. Whatever it take, try putting that smile on each day before you venture out. Your day will go much better for that effort made first thing in the morning.

People with a smile on their face and in their voice seem to attract other people with theanimated-light-bulb-gif-22 same attitude and that leads not only to a more pleasant day, but often to a much more productive and successful day. Most of us prefer doing business with smiling friendly people, rather than some sourpuss sales clerk or co-worker who seems put out by having to talk to us.

So, take the time this morning to thank God for another day and all attitude-2of the things that He has provided. Ask that He stay with you during the day to provide you with what you need. Then, put on a smiley face and let it seep into your voice.

It’s going to be a great day!

Always carry a spare smile…

June 12, 2019

In today’s post to his blog – Jack’s Winning Words – Jack Freed shared this thought from Dolly Parton – “If you see someone without a smile, give ‘em yours.” Jack went on to Dolly PArtonwrite that recent studies have shown that people are less happy today than they were in the 1990’s. Although he didn’t mention why that is true, he did echo Dolly’s advice about taking the time to listen to those that you encounter during the day and sharing a smile where needed.

As a society, we have become a bit more introverted and insular. I blame the rise of the smartphone for at least some of that. We have allowed ourselves to be captivated andcouple-looking-at-phones captured by a device that steals time away from everything else, including our interactions with other human beings. Me may not even notice the frown or sadness on the face of those that we encounter because we are too busy looking at our phones. We certainly don’t take the time to ask what is wrong, and since we can’t Google that, we just move on to the next attention grabber that shows up on our screen.

So, perhaps the first step to all of us getting better and having smiles would be to put this-is-medown those smartphones and take a good look at what is going on around us. Step two might be to make sure that we put a smile on our own face. I’ve posted here a few times about loving yourself before you can share love with others (see the post Start your day with love and the rest will take care of itself). So take a moment, before you set out on your day, to find that love of self and who you are that will put a smile on your face. Many times that may involve taking time for a short prayer of thanks to God for another day. Acknowledging and accepting the love of God each day allows you to also love yourself and then to be ready to share that love with others.

Back to the thought of the day about sharing a smile. In order to share your smile you need to do a little more than just smile at someone, although that helps, too. Perhaps your smile is the icebreaker that allows you to ask, “How are you doing?” or even “Is there something troubling you that I might be able to help with?” That might be being kind 1awkward with a total stranger, but many of the people that you encounter won’t be total strangers. Finding a way to initiate a conversation will allow you to find out what may be troubling them. Even if you can’t really do anything to help in the situation; just giving them an outlet to talk about whatever it is that is troubling them will help. You can be empathetic and supportive, even if you can’t solve the problem. Sometimes they may just need a shoulder to cry on or a good hug of reassurance.

So, always carry a spare smile and be ready to share it with others who might need it today. You have more and they need the one on your face more than you do, right now. smiling-sunPut away your smartphone and look around you for those who might need to borrow your smile. When you find them and give them your smile, you’ll find that God immediately puts another smile on your face so you can continue His work in the world.

Share a smile today!

What do you see in your mirror?

March 22, 2019

Today’s entry in the Jack’s Winning Words blog has this quote – “Smile in the mirror.  Do that every morning, and you’ll start to see a big difference in your life.”  (Yoko Ono)

funny face 2Readers of this blog will recall that I’ve posted here more than once about making a funny face in the mirror in the morning to get your day started off right. In this morning’s paper these was a review of the new scary movie “Us” (click here to watch trailer), in which mirrors play a frightening role.

The point of looking in the mirror and smiling or making a funny face is to be more aware of what people see when they look at you during the day. Most of us go through most of our awake lives without any idea what we look like. When we aren’t making asad looking man conscious effort to smile or “at rest” face is what the world sees. It’s not that we are trying to look unfriendly or angry or sad. In fact, we aren’t making any effort to look any particular way. It’s just that, when our facial muscles completely relax, our faces tend to droop into looks that can easily be mistaken for any of those feelings. Have you ever had someone ask you , out of the blue, why you are frowning or what you are mad/sad about? It’s your at rest face giving you a bum rap.

It’s possible to see what you look like by looking in the mirror and relaxing; but most of us would probably still consciously put on some kind of “face” in the mirror.  A better way to see what you normally look like is to have someone take a picture of you when you are not aware of it. You will probably look at those pictures and ask, “I don’t really look like that do I?” The answer is yes. Most of the time the average person’s “at rest” face looks bored, or sad or maybe even a little angry. They are usually not all that inviting and friendly. It takes an effort to smile and when we relax, we don’t make that effort.

What are we to do so that we don’t turn off the world with our at rest face? Well, you can smiling dogstart with today’s advice and conscientiously make the effort to smile in your mirror in the morning. Make that funny face to help you get in the mood. Then fix that feeling of the smile that you are wearing in your mind and try to be aware of your face as the day progresses. You won’t be able to maintain that thought all day, no one can; however, it will pop back into your mind during the day and you can bring the smile back to your face.

An interesting thing happens when people encounter you with a smile on your face, instead of the frown that your normal “at rest” face presents. Instead of avoiding you handshakebecause you look unhappy, they will engage you to find out what you are smiling about. You will look upbeat and people want to associate with upbeat people and not with the Debbie Downer’s of life. A smile presents a mystery to the world that they will want to share, while a frown just says, “you don’t want to know what’s bothering me”.

So, take Yoko’s advice (or mine) and start the day with a smile or a funny face in your mirror and see if your day doesn’t go better because of it.

this-is-meOh, look at her; I wonder what she is smiling about?

Start off each day with a smile

October 24, 2018

The headline for today’s post came from the Jack’s Winning Words blog for today.  Jack started off writing about Confucius and ended with that line.

That piece of advice resonates on several levels. Starting your day with a smile forces you to consider your attitude before you encounter people. Stand in front of a mirror smirkand smile at yourself. See if it doesn’t immediately force the question, “What am I smiling about?” into your mind. The mind has the interesting ability to immediately find an answer to that question. You will either remember something that is smile worthy – something that happened to you or something that you saw or something that someone said to you – or you will look at that smiling face in the mirror and stop taking yourself so seriously. In either case, it will set a tone for the start of your day that is way better than walking out to face the world with a frown on your face.

Most people don’t realize that their “at rest” face (the default look that just sets itself on your face) is not all that friendly looking or inviting. Most at rest faces droop into a frownHenry Thomas Buckle or an unhappy look. It’s not that yo are mad or really unhappy, it’s just that your at rest continence does not have a pleasant smile on it. Ask a friend to take a picture of you sometime in a normal setting when you are not expecting it to see how you look. You may be surprised how unfriendly you this-is-melook.

So, make the effort to start each day with a smile. Not only will it make you look more attractive and inviting to others, but making that conscience effort will make you feel better, too. You may also find that more people say hi or try to start a conversation with you. They are curious why you are smiling and want to share whatever is was that made you smile. That will make you smile even more.

So, before you leave home this morning; find a mirror and put a smile on your face. Waitanimated-light-bulb-gif-22 for your mind to let you know why you are smiling and then carry that with you the rest of the day.

You’re already on your way to having a great day!

Make the world a happier place…

July 12, 2018

Today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog is so good that I have to repost the whole thing…

“Happiness starts with a smile.”  (Sent by Carol Stanonik)  When you’re on a bus or subway laughter isn’t what you expect.  A Belgian ad agency, working for Coca-Cola, hired an actor to start laughing on a crowded train, with today’s quote as the tagline.  The result showed how happiness can be contagious.  Even a simple smile at someone will often result with one in return.  This world, at times, can be unkind.  Let’s help to make it a happier place.    😉  Jack    Coca-Cola: Happiness starts with a smile – YouTube

You’ve got to play the video.

I recommend that you save that link to the video and play it back every morning before smiling-sunyou start out on your day. It may help put a smile on your face and that will start the process of making the world a happier place.

Be a contagious carrier of happiness today…put a smile on your face.