Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Change someone's life—with a smile!

I had to go to the doctor's for a test the other day. I needed to get up at four in the morning to prepare and then drive in the freezing Chicago winter weather to get there. Anxious and tired, I checked in with the doctor's receptionist, offering her a weak smile, which was the best I could do considering the heaviness I was feeling in my heart.

She smiled back. It was just a little thing, but that smile really lifted my spirits. Suddenly the upcoming test seemed manageable. And all because someone cared enough to smile at me. Hers was a smile that seemed to say: Hey, yeah, life's tough sometimes. Believe me, I too know what it's like. But you know how it is—you'll get through it.

And I did. With her help. A complete stranger. And all she did was smile.

Many symbols, actions and words substantially transcend nations, races and cultures. For instance, when people celebrate they throw their hands up in the air. Many languages have adopted "okay." But there is one thing that is universally understood by all people in all times.

A smile.

I watched a documentary about suicide. About people who were going to kill themselves by jumping off a high bridge. Amazingly, a few people actually survived jumping (with great bodily injury), and the story of one of the guys who jumped and survived moved me to the core.

He said that as he was walking to the bridge he decided that if one person smiled at him, just one, before he got there he wouldn't jump. But no one did.

Can you imagine that? One smile can save a life. And what does it cost us? Just getting out of ourselves enough to give another person the attention that says: Hey, I know you're there and we're in the same boat in this crazy human experience and I care.

That's it. Just that little bit can do it.

So the next time you catch eyes with someone, share a little smile with them. You don't know the burden they might be carrying—and the lift your smile might give them.

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