Living in Love Award: Finalist: Just Smile

Congratulations to Sustainable Utopia, the third recipient of the Living in Love Award! The prize is three parts – the permission to post the image associated with this award on her blog, three spots on my blog to feature posts of her choosing, with the chance to reach my followers and finally, I will write a post for her blog on the topic of her choosing. This post will only appear on her blog, not on mine.

Lesley has succeeded in the final task for Living in Love, Giving of her Excess and writing about it. It turns out Living in Love is about the small acts of Generosity. The small acts are free and easily become habit. What better way to Live in Love than to Just Smile?

Please check out all of her submissions so far:

Step 1 – Random Act of Kindness – Walking the Walk

Step 2 – Donate of Your Excess – Just Smile

Step 3 – Define Love – I Love You!

Here is the Post that won her the Living in Love Award!

Just Smile

When Tristan at the Alternate Economy first announced that he was planning on starting his own blogging award, I immediately sent over the first submission ever. I thought I had this one in the bag. I looked at his list of requirements and knew that these were all things that I did on a regular basis, so it would only be a matter of whipping up a few blog posts and I’d have myself a shiny new blogging award. The first one was easy, I’d already written it. The second one I didn’t even know was going to be a submission until it was. This third one though…

I’ve sat down to write it a few times already, and I kept coming up blank. I kept thinking to myself “We just don’t have that much excess around here”. We’re young, we’ve got two kids, a mortgage and we’re still paying off our student loans. To say that money can get a bit tight would be an understatement. We can’t really afford to give to charities, we don’t have a lot of time to volunteer, we don’t even buy those heart and stroke tickets when it’s that time of year.

So, I was stumped. I suddenly started to feel like we weren’t very generous people. Yes, money is tight, but sometimes it seems like we have so much more than our share. I should say, by the way, that most of this inner dialogue was occurring while I was (wait for it) gathering toys and clothing to drop off at the Goodwill. Talk about a “Duh” moment. The truth is, we do this so often that it never even occurred to me that we were being charitable. But that’s not what I’m considering to be my act of generosity.

Like I said, I’ve been having trouble coming up with something to write about, and because I have the good fortune to actually be friends with Tristan, he suggested that I write about some of the things I have been doing to help him out with the Alternate Economy. The thing is, though, that I don’t really consider that generosity either. I would be doing this whether I had excess time or not. I believe wholeheartedly in this cause, and I would certainly make time for it even if it was damn near impossible. I don’t consider helping him giving of my excess anymore than he considers all the work he puts into it giving of his. It’s necessary to making this world a better place, and if I can convince even just one more person out there to offer him a helping hand in any way they’re able to, than I’ve done my good deed for the day. But this isn’t my act of generosity either.

So by now you must be thinking “Quit beating around the bush, already, what are you writing about?!”

Okay, okay. I hear ya. I finally discovered what I have in excess; Smiles. I’m always smiling. Even when I’m grumpy and sad I figure, Hey, what have I got to lose? Absolutely nothing, and everything to gain. Smiling makes you and everyone else feel better. It’s hard to be angry at a person who has a genuine and Loving smile on their face.

You may be saying to yourself, “Well that’s kind of a cop out, those other things you talked about were clearly more generous than just smiling.” And I understand your point of view, but let me give you an example of when excess smiles given generously really do make a difference. Earlier today I was sitting in a hospital waiting room. My father has a degenerative disease that effects his spine and is preparing to go under the knife for the third time in ten years. Usually my mother would have driven him the 3 hours to Toronto to attend the appointment, but she just couldn’t get the time off work, so I volunteered. While my father was in with the Doctor, another couple came in and approached reception. There was some confusion and raised voices and the woman was clearly upset. Through some error in communication between her family doctor and the neurologist, her appointment had been cancelled. She also had traveled quite a distance to visit this specialist, and was visibly and understandably upset by this turn of events. She and her husband sat across from me and they had a bit of an argument. Not because they were mad at each other, but because both were frustrated and worried that they would have to take more time from work to come to another appointment. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that this woman was on the verge of tears. Now, I didn’t know this woman, and there were probably no really useful words I could have said to calm her down. Instead, when I caught her eye, I smiled. She grinned back, clearly just being polite, and went back to flipping hastily through a magazine. The next time I caught her eye, I smiled again and said “One of those days, huh?” And she chuckled, took a deep breath and returned a smile that was just as genuine as my own and I could tell that she was starting to feel better.

Imagine a world where we did our best to make other people feel better. I know that something as simple as a smile can brighten someones day, so I give them freely. I never run out, they replenish like magic. And I’ll let you in on a little secret, if you look very closely, you’ll find that you have an endless supply of smiles too. We may not all have the cash to give away, or closets full of clothes we no longer wear, or even extra time to spend at our local animal shelters. But we do have smiles, lots of them. So many, in fact, that we can just give them away.