Smile

I was walking down the street many years ago, navigating my way through a throng of business people all hurrying back to work after lunch. It dawned on me that there were very few smiles. Everyone was intent on where they were going or chatting with their companions. For the most part their faces were rather stern or just void of expression. One woman in particular looked very haggard and frazzled. Middle aged and dowdy, she wasn’t very attractivre. She must have felt my gaze and as she glanced my way our eyes met. I smiled. She smiled in return. Oh my goodness. What an incredible transformation. Her eyes lit up as they crinkled, her mouth and cheeks lifted as if by magic and her skin seemed more radiant. As she passed by I though how very pretty she was.

What a difference a smile can make. Not only does it affect how we look, it can change the way we feel. Just the act itself can lift us up. When I was young and my Dad would tell me to smile, I would give him a fake eye roll smile. He would then chide me by saying “You aren’t smiling with your eyes”. He was right. I would laugh and my whole body changed. It was lighter. Happier. When we feel true joy or happiness our eyes crinkle up when we smile. The eyes sparkle. This is the type of smile that later on gives us the lines and wrinkles around our eyes. Commonly referred to as crows feet, I prefer to call them laugh lines. They are earned over a lifetime and should be revered as a sign of a happy life. How we greet others can make or break their day sometimes. Greeting them with a smile can cause a ripple affect as they pass the smiles along during the day. Most importantly, we feel better when we smile. The physiological changes in our body are noticeable in an instant. Sometimes if we are down or angry we can force a smile and change our mood. Even if it doesn’t work its worth a try.

Body language has been around forever. Long before the written word and verbal communication. Back in the days of cavemen grunts, reading facial and body cues was a very important skill. Life or death. Of course nowadays this skill isn’t used or required nearly as much since the consequences aren’t as dire. But… maybe not. People are often “taken in” by unscrupulous people. Snake oil salesmen they used to be called. Its not just older people or vulnerable individuals, it is often very intelligent people who are conned. Is it just trust or a lack of body language reading skills? Are we tempted by greed? Fear. Our conscious mind is only able to process a limited amount of information as we weigh the pro’s and cons of any decision we make. Our subconscious however is lightening fast. It takes in enormous amounts of information and processes it instantaneously. Comparing the visual data it sees as well as perceives against our memories of past events. Often referred to as intuitive or astute, people who trust their subconscious often do not even realize why they do what they do. Often it is just a feeling. That is your subconscious saying to you “Okay chum. I have looked at all of the data. Checked the files. Compared it and the recommendation is to go forward.” Or not.

I have gone through life in a very intuitive way. My decisions are often made on a whim. To others it seems flighty or irresponsible when in actuality I just trust that inner voice. I don’t really waste a lot of time thinking about what may or may not happen. All decisions cause reactions. Some positive and some negative. You have to live with consequences. Good or bad. My husband on the other hand was always quick to analyze and reanalyze all available data until he made us both nuts. Even at that point he was unable to make decisions. He truly was afraid of making the “wrong” decision. That was the difference between us. I made wrong decisions all the time but seldom did I repeat those errors. There is one funny exception though which actually became a joke in our family. I was wrong nearly 100% of the time in a certain area which of course made decisions easy. Confusing? Let me explain.

Once in a while when I meet a person for the first time I develop an incredibly strong feeling. I either despise them or love everything about them. I’m talking intense feelings. Not middle of the road. No “um yeah she is nice…” Or “uh, he’s kinda full of himself.” No I am talking revulsion. Don’t stand too close. Or in the opposite vein, I hang on every word. I talk about the new person constantly. I want to be near them always as I feel good around them. Here’s the thing. I am always, unequivocally 100% wrong. Those losers I despise and cannot stand to be around? Yeah, they turn out to be awesome individuals. Truly wonderful people in all ways. Those people I fall all over myself just to gaze on their lovely faces? Assholes! Perfectly despicable! Let me tell you how much I hated, when I met someone near God like status. After I gushed to Rene’ he would say “Well, I guess we know what kind of person they are.” I hated that. Because I knew in my heart he was right. Keep in mind that this is only when I have strong feelings. Most people I meet, I walk away feeling benign. Nothing much off of the status quo. Yawn… So what is it that first of all causes my strong reactionsÉ Second, why I am a sucker? Well after years of analysis, I don’t like people like me! Initially.

I am outspoken, brash, opinionated, contrary, argumentative, and pushy. I am animated regarding whatever my latest pet project is. I will speak out against or for any cause I believe in and I will argue my case non stop. People are intimidated by forceful individuals. We make them uncomfortable. Just as I am uncomfortable with people of the same ilk. Luckily I recognize this and begrudgingly give people second chances when need be. On the flip side, those nicey nice people usually screw me in some way and I very seldom give them the chance to do it again. In the end I take people at face value and I judge accordingly. Sometimes to my own detriment,. What are you gonna do. There are some not so nice people out there. and some of them are Emmy award winning actors. So now I am a little more aware of my instant like/dislike radar. Life is a crap shoot sometimes.

When my husband passed away, there was a song that seemed to play non stop and I would cry every time I heard it. It was such a deep reminder that he was not with me. As time passed I would hear the song less and less, but there are days I get in the car feeling cranky with the world. This song comes on, and I smile. Nowadays I feel it is a message from him. Chin up Toots, I hear him say. Its going to be okay. It lightens my mood and my smile helps to heal my heart. He had a crinkly smile when he had a drink or two. The “lounge lizard look” I called it. It never ceased to make me laugh. Each day I try to remember how important it is for me to smile at the world. Partly because it is good for my soul and partly because of all the smiles I receive back. Frankly who wants to look at a bunch of ugly old sour pusses. I have learned that I have a lot of control over what comes at me. I just smile.

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