Put a little humor into your life…

June 8, 2016

“People with a sense of humor tend to be more humble in moments of success and less defeated in times of travail.”  (Bob Newhart) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog. I always liked the approach to humor that Bob Newhart took.

In times of travail, disappointment or failure my wife and I often say to each other, “Someday we’ll look back on this and laugh about it.” Just that little reference to the humor that might be found in the situation is usually enough to relieve the moment or smiling doglighten the mood.

I’ve always found that a good sense of humor and of the humor that may be found in life is a great coping mechanism. Whether the humor is found in the thought, “What was I thinking to do that?” or perhaps in reflecting on my over-reaction to the situation; there is usually something in every situation that can bring a laugh or a smile to my face. That smile usually breaks the mood and helps me get through whatever it is.

Sometimes we all take life and the situations that we find ourselves in way too seriously. There are few real life and death situations or decisions in our day-to-day lives, even timidthough we make many of them out to be that serious. The young are especially prone to over-reacting to events, since they have no real base of knowledge or wisdom to draw upon. To many of them every moment of crisis is an OMG moment. Later in life they become “been there, done that” moments, which your wisdom helps you understand didn’t kill you the first time and probably won’t kill you this time either. Being rejected for a date or getting a pimple before the big dance is not life-ending.

Self-depreciation or the ability to laugh at yourself is important too. It keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously or thinking too highly of our self-importance. Humility in the face of success is based upon seeing the humor in the alternative outcome or perhaps the happenstance that led to the success. The humorless man is said to have hubris instead.

lady under cloudSometimes the situation at hand is so dark or sad or overwhelming that we might have difficulty finding any humor in it at all. At times like that I often think of the Al Capp character Joe Btfsplk from the Little Abner cartoon. Joe walked around with a little dark rain cloud over his head all the time because he was the world’s worst Jinx. Bad things always happened around Joe. Instead of feeling like Joe, I find a little spark of humor in the thought of Joe that helps lighten my mood.

Do you find humor in life’s situations? Does humor help you get through your day or through bad situations? It can, if you let it. I’ve written here in the past that I make a sillyfunny face face in the shaving mirror almost every morning as a way to start my day with a little humor and a mechanism to help me not be so serious all the time. Try it tomorrow morning and see if that doesn’t put you in a better mood to start the day.

Put a little humor into your life. Someday you’ll look back on the things that are troubling you today and laugh about them.

Be contagious today – spread a smile…

December 18, 2015

“Thinking about somebody else’s smile always make me smile” – Sluggo, in the Nancy cartoon. In the cartoon in which that appeared,sluggo Sluggo had just sent off a letter to Santa asking him to give his toy to someone who had no one to buy them a toy. He was thinking about the smile that the toy would put on someone else’s face on Christmas morning.

When someone thinks of you, of seeing you, or being with you last; does that thought bring a smile to their face? Did they see a smile on your face?

Smiles can be contagious. If someone sees you and you are smiling, maybe they’ll be like Sluggo and that will cause them to smile, too. Then the two of you see someone else and perhaps there will be four people smiling. It can go on and on. It’s sort of like that Jimmy Dean sausage commercial that’s running on TV – the one with the guy dressed like the sun. First one person than then others pass-on the sunshine that was started by him sending his wife off to work with a good breakfast. Soon everyone has the little sun spikes glowing above their heads.

The same thing can happen with smiles, even if you didn’t have a Jimmy Dean sausage breakfast. I wrote recently about making sure that you are smiling and not letting your “at rest” face be off-putting to everyone. That was for you and this is for everyone else. Your smile can be the contagion that sweeps through your work group or maybe the whole smiling womanbuilding. If you work in retail it can be the thing that causes the customers to buy and leave smiling themselves. The benefit to you is that it can make everyone that you come in contact with a bit more pleasant. The other side benefit is that it comes back around to you. When you see them start to smile, it may have the same effect on you as it does on Sluggo – it will make you smile, too.

When you think about it, sharing a smile with someone is the least expensive thing that you can do with the least effort, but the biggest potential return. There’s a Kay Jewelers commercial tag line that says smiling couple“Every kiss begins with “K”. But well before you get to that kiss, every relationship begins with a smile. After all, how many people go over and introduce themselves to someone who is scowling at them? We take a smile as a positive sign, an inviting sign or at least a sign that that the smiling person is in a happy and upbeat mood – all things that encourage that first step towards a relationship. The Filipino rock band Rocksteddy put those thoughts into a song – Smile at me.

So, before you start your day, whether it will be at home or at work somewhere, put a smile on your face. Maybe no one else will see it, but if you happen to glance as you pass a mirror, you’ll see someone smiling back at you and that will make your day a little better. And, if you happen to have to go to work somewhere, think how much better your whole day will be if you end up infecting all of the people around you witdodgeballh your contagious smile. You may have seen the recent ad where the office guys goes around dropping off packages to everyone and when they open them up they are full of dodgeballs. A happy game of dodgeball breaks out and everyone has fun. Well, maybe you can’t really do that at work, but if you go about your workplace dropping off smiles soon the whole room/building could be full of people having fun smiling at each other – maybe even the boss.

Several years ago I used to write occasionally about a manager that we had in our little real estate office who I often called Little Mary Sunshine. She was the most upbeat, energetic and fun to be around person I’ve known. At first it was occasionally annoying; but it was impossible to hold out against for long. She would always have everyone smiling and upbeat after a short time. It is impossible to be a Mr. Grumpy when she is around. She refused to join in your grumpiness and her upbeat and positive attitude was contagious. You can be contagious, too. Start with a smile and see where that takes you today.

dumb blob guyHave a smiley and happy day. There’s more to be happy (and thankful) about that the fact that it is Friday. When I think of you smiling, it makes me smile, too.

Let’s end on an upbeat note with You Make Me Smile as sung by Detroit’s own Uncle Kracker.


Spread the smiles today…

November 3, 2015

“A word or a smile is often enough to put fresh life in a despondent soul.”  (St Therese of Lisieux)

St ThereseWe can’t all be Saints, but most of us could try to emulate St. Terese of Lisieux, who believed in responding to the problems and people of the world with a smile and an attitude that said, “How can I help?”  Most often her solution was to pray for the people that she encountered or who needed help and apparently those prayers worked many times.

We all encounter people during the day who look distressed or unhappy. Many times our inclination is to turn away, to avoid eye contact and hope that they go away. How much more helpful it would be if we took St. Thereis’ advice and instead put a smile on our faces and speak to them.

Maybe you don’t feel like you have the time to devote to the answer if you ask, “Is anything wrong? Can I help you?” After all you have places to go and people to see; things to do and tasks to be accomplished. You don’t have time for a conversation with this person or to deal with whatever issuescaring are troubling them. Maybe you don’t have time NOT to do that.

Take a moment to reflect on what it would be like if you were hurting from a loss or an emotional trauma of some sort and no one would even look at you, much less offer to help by just listening to your story. How lonely you would be: how worthless you would feel. If you can feel that in yourself; then, recognize it in others. Be the one who stops and asks and then takes the time to listen.

Sometimes there is little that you can do but to smile and listen; to commiserate and reassure; to say it will be alright, even if you can’t figure out how. Many times that is enough to put that fresh life in a despondent soul. Sometimes a hug and a stroke on the hair of the person in need is better than band aids and pills that doctors might dispense.

caregiver handsWhen you stop and think about it, is there anything else that you might have had planned to do today that is more important than reaching out to help someone else in need? Somehow I doubt it. And for that person that you helped, you were the most important person in their life today; you were their hero. How much more important than that could you wish for?

Now, maybe you won’t have an encounter like that which was described above; maybe you’ll just pass a few people who were in a down mood until they saw the smile on your face and that had a positive impact on them, too. Maybe your smile got passed on to a few of them and then they passed it on again, until soon 20-30 people were sharing your smile. What a great contribution you’ve made that day.smiling girl Perhaps you’ll need to get a bit of it back later in the day, if you’ve encountered some difficulty. If you see someone else smiling, and that helps you; take a moment to see if you recognize that smile; maybe it was yours coming back to help you.

Have a great day and week ahead and spread the smiles. And, if you get the chance; strop and ask someone in need if you can help them.

Make the right choice today… smile

October 8, 2015

“You’ve got a lot of choices. If getting out of bed in the morning is a chore and you’re not smiling on a regular basis, try another choice.”  – Steven D. Woodhull

Sometimes it’s hard to put a smile on your face right away in the morning, before you’ve even had your cup of coffee; but maybe you should keep these thoughts in mind – you woke up again and it’s a new day – both are better than the dumb blob guyalternatives, so smile. You’ll be surprised what a great, positive impact seeing a smiling face can have on people; even if it’s just you looking back at yourself in the mirror. Perhaps seeing yourself smile will conjure up all of the reasons and things that you have to smile about. That just reinforces the positive attitude that your smile belies.

Sometimes you may wake up a bit down, perhaps from some left-over problem from yesterday. A smile will still help and you should consider the words of Paul Ian Guillermo – “If you feel happy, smile with all your heart. if you’re down, smile with all your might.” Putting on a smiling face when you’re hurting or sad or frightened or angry is hard; but it is probably in those moments that forcing yourself to smile might help you the most. One positive impact is that people will be more likely to welcome you and converse with your if you are smiling. Many people try to avoid someone who is frowning out of anger or “down in the mouth” due to sadness.

A secondary effect of smiling is that it is not a natural things for most people, so it takes a bit of focus and work. That smiling dogeffort can take your mind a bit off whatever might have been troubling you or it can turn you ambivalence into a positive attitude.  Manoj Arora offers this little tidbit – “Be like a duck, paddling and working very hard under the water, but what everyone sees is a smiling and calm face.”

So, what choice will you make today and tomorrow? Start your days off right by choosing to get up with a smile. Don’t worry as much about “What’s in your wallet” as about what’s on your face. Let that be a smile.

There’s a party goin’ on…Smile

September 30, 2015

“I might look like I’m doing nothing, but in my head I’m quite busy.”  (Spirit Science) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I can relate to that little saying, especially sometimes at night when I wake up and my mind takes off on its own. Does that ever happen to you?

I used to work for a technology company that had a corporate trainer who used this line to open his training sessions  – “To the world outside I may look calm and composed, but inside this body there’s a party going on”.  Hechild dancing was a great trainer who let some of that partying out in his sessions and made the learning experience fun. Is there a party going on inside of you? Do you let some of that out and share with others or just hold it all in?

Many people, and I count myself among them, have an exterior mien that masks their emotions. They have “at rest” facial expressions that either looks disinterested or maybe even angry. I always thought that House Speaker John Boehner looked unhappy whenever he was shown on TV, especially as he sat behind the President on State of Union speeches. Perhaps he was always unhappy then. How do you look when you’re not trying to smile or frown or make any face at all?  Most people would probably be surprised at how uninviting they look in their “at rest ” face.

There is a tendency in our society not to make eye contact or engage others and, in fact, to discourage engagement by others. We’re in too much of a hurry to get somewhere or do something to stop and talk to others, especially strangers.  These days much of our focus may be directed to the palm of our hand where our ubiquitous little friend, the smartphone, demands our attention. How ironic that we would rather check out what someone posted on Facebook than to spend actual face time with another person. There’s a party going on all around us inside the people that we pass, but we don’t join the fun because we make no effort to get invited in.

Perhaps the easiest way that we can invite people to join our party or to get invoited to join theirs is to make the effort to smile as we pass them. I like this little saying from Jarod Kintz – “Smiling is the way the soul says hello.”  So, smile and invite people to join smiling dogthe party that’s going on inside of you. You won’t be sorry that you did.

The thing about a smiling person is that, when you meet them, you have a reaction. You may wonder what the heck they are smiling about or you may wonder if they’re smiling because they see the jelly from this morning’s donut still clinging to your shirt. Perhaps their smile keys off some good feeling that you have inside and that brings a smile to your face, too. Maybe you can then pay it forward by smiling at someone else and helping make their day better.  “For a moment at least, be a smile on someone else’s face.”  ― Dejan Stojanovic

Invite others in to join the party that’s goin’ on inside of you. If you happen to be alone, take a moment to think of something that makes you smile and remember this little saying from Andy Rooney – “If you smile when you are alone, then you really mean it.” You’ll make your own day better.

Smile and have a great day.  ;^)

Be the good pebble today…

April 28, 2015

Did you ever notice that when you toss a pebble, no matter how small, into a calm body of water the small waves from that act expand until they have and rippled through the whole body of water? You can see it happen. If that body of water was roiled already with wind and waves, the same effect would occur, even if you couldn’t see it. You know that it’s happening and that in a few places the waves just got a tiny bit higher when they intersected the waves from your little pebble or maybe your little wave filled in a trough just a little bit and it wasn’t as deep.

Life can be a bit like that body of water. Most of the time life all around you is not still and calm; there are things happening in your life or the lives of others that roil the waters. It may feel like you are just that inconsequential little pebble in the big ocean of life; however, if you can cause just a little ripple by having a smile on your face for others, maybe you’ll be making a difference. Your smile may reinforce the good feelings that someone you meet already has and cause them to continue smiling at others, too. Maybe your smile will somehow fill in the trough of a bad day that another is having and help them get through whatever is affecting them. Maybe some will just wonder what the heck is making you so happy and that will take their minds off some of their own issues.

smile powerNo matter the starting point, the positive energy of your little smile can only add to the day of those who see it; so be the good pebble today and toss a smile into the mix. Imagine it rippling through the ocean of life making others smile or helping them cope with what was bothering them – that will probably make your smile even bigger.  If enough people start out each day by sharing a smile with others maybe we can bring calm to the ocean of life again and wouldn’t that be something to smile about.

Smile your way to a great day…

November 12, 2014

“Your day will go the way the corners of your mouth turn.”  (Unknown). I saw that little saying on the Jack’s Winning Words blog recently. It certainly makes sense. Have you met people who always have a frown on their faces? Speaker of the House, John Boehner, immediately comes to mind. Boehner always looks pained and unhappy, like his underwear are riding up in a permanent wedgie. I can’t recall more than one time seeing him look happy in news coverage.

I do know some people whose normal mien is a down turned mouth. At best, with a full smile on their face sad looking manheir mouths may reach a neutral position. You kind of get used to looking for other facial clues with them – a twinkle in the eye, for example. Most people actually have “at rest” facial expressions that might initially be taken the wrong way. I know that I do. When the face is completely relaxed, it does tend to droop a bit and the lips turn down. One has to work at it a bit to appear to be happy, with a smile. I think that comes fairly naturally if you are happy. The completely at rest face is an outward sign of a somewhat blank mind, but for many that results in a look that can be too serious  at best (I get that a lot) and angry at worst. The old saying, “he looks down in the mouth” might have been uttered about someone who really wasn’t sad or angry, but just looked that way to others.

So, the solution is to be cognizant of what your face looks like if it is in its normal rest position and make the effort to put a smile on it. It doesn’t have to be a big, idiotic smile; just enough so that people who meet you get the impression that you are happy or content or at least someone that they might what to get to know. Don’t be the guy or gal that others avoid because you look like you’re ready to bite someone’s head off.

It’s a much better start to a conversation if someone says, “you look happy, what’s the occasion?” than if they note, “you look mad about something, I hope it’s not something that I’ve done.” People are much moresmiling girl comfortable being curious about something good than inquiring about what appears to have you so upset. Co-workers and bosses also prefer to deal with people who seem to be in a happy frame of mind; as opposed to someone who looks like they are about to be fired.

Resolve every morning to make your day the way that your mouth curls and then make sure that it is curled up in a smile. Have a great day and a great rest of the week. It’s hump-day, which is something to smile about.