“The finest spirits, the most exquisite wines, the nectars and ambrosias of modern tables, will be all spoilt by a few drops of bitter extract; and a bad temper has the same effect in life, which is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindness, and small obligations given habitually, are what win and preserve the heart, and secure comfort.” ~ Sir Humphry Davy, The Collected Works of Sir Humphry Davy …
When I came home from work the other day, I was met by my daughter who came running around the corner wearing a Johnny Appleseed hat that she had made in school. Now I could tell that she was proud of it and was anxious to show it off to me, so I asked her about it and offered her some constructive compliments and praise about how awesome it was, which got her smiling and all giddy. She exclaimed, “Ya, I know, isn’t it cool! We learned all about him in school today… and about apples!” Her smile… her excitement… the fact that something I did brightened her day–all of this made my day all the more joyful, meaningful, and worthwhile.
A similar thing happened to me several years ago when I was in the hospital for surgery–I remember this little girl, who was there visiting someone else with her parents, who was looking at me from across the room. As I was looking at her, our eyes met, and I smiled and waved. She shot a big smile back my way as if to let me know that she was relieved that I was not in any pain. In a sense, it was as if we each shared a little peace, love, and joy from our hearts with one another, and in that instant, recognized both the humanity and divinity that we carried within. Over the years, so many things that I have thought might be very important to me have fallen to the wayside and are no longer in my mind, but these memories, well, I still carry them with me–I still can see her smile and feel her delight.
Throughout the course of my life, it has been my experience that the more smiles, hugs, compliments, kindness, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and love I give to others, the more I receive back–making me equally blessed by my gifts. And it is through that giving of myself, in which a lasting impression upon my soul is left–the things that have touched my heart are the things that stay with me, that keep me constantly aware of how positive life is, how powerful a simple smile can prove to be.
If I had to choose only one memory from my life, I would pick one of those smiles, one of those defining moments, over nearly any of the awards, recognition, and praise I have received throughout my lifetime so far. Perhaps the smile of my wife at our wedding, the moment I first met each of my children, the silent time I shared with a grieving friend–I would choose each of these, any day, over the cheering crowd of spectators during the championship high school football game I played in, or my first taekwondo medal I received as a young boy. Life is filled with simple, deep moments; and if we can truly appreciate the depth and beauty of them, the rest of our journey becomes richer and much more pleasant.
Take time today to appreciate the little things in life that bring you comfort and joy.
Questions to consider:
Why do we tend to undervalue the simple kindnesses that others show us?
What to you is the best part of a shared smile or a simple kindness?
Do you search out opportunities to share smiles and simple kindnesses of your own?
For further thought:
“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.” ~ Joseph Addison