“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” ― Mother Teresa
Most of our days we travel a path of obstacles and competing energies. We walk down the street concerned with making our next appointment on time, we look to our watch, quicken our step, replay the list of things to be accomplished in our head, and begin to beat ourselves up about everything remaining to be done.
In performing these motions and thoughts, we isolate ourselves. We become tied to our own minds…looking inward and missing the external. We send off signals that we are too busy or too important to engage with others. By tuning out the external, we often create unessential stress for ourselves and cut ourselves off from the soothing balm of social interaction.
So this week, I’d like to ask you to conduct an experiment.
No matter the load, the rush, the thoughts consuming you, make eye contact and sincerely smile at anyone and everyone coming from the other direction.
Not a smile of “I like you, but I am too busy to stop”, not a smile of courtesy, not a smile of obligation. Just a smile that radiates from your heart. A smile that says, whether I now you or not, we are connected and I love you.
If you cannot manage that at first, just try any smile. For smiling begets happiness, and soon each smile will become easier. Sometimes the superficial actually proceeds and cultivates deeper meaning.
Try to let go of your worries. You know what you need to do. Don’t dwell on your lists. If not actively thinking positively or solving things with happiness, push the to-do’s away and instead become curious about all that surrounds you. Don’t judge or get disgusted by the package. You never know how incredible a person might lie within that irregular shell. Aren’t we all irregular shells? If you have past grievances with someone, forget them and smile for the present moment of seeing one another. If you can really let it go, smile and turn a new page you can give the relationship a second chance to enrich your life.
A friend once told me that people are unfriendly and often hostile. I watched my friend closely after that to try to see the world through his eyes. Walking down the street, he scowled. Seeing a friend, he did smile, but often with a burden of his own thoughts or a tentative fear of a negative response. He gave few people unconditional warmth when he greeted them. After observing this, I shared what I saw and challenged him to try to make the move, to give the first smile. Let go of the monkey brain and the fear of rejection. Rejection does not exist if you give without expectation. It was difficult for him at first. He had created and become trapped in a chrysalis of fear. Fear of reaching out and fear of being ignored.
But if we face our fears and engage with the world, we can enjoy it and even change it. A smile will turn a hostile world into a welcoming world. If we can find the strength to bust through the clear walls of our chrysalis coffins and gain connection to others, there is nothing to keep us from making things better. It all starts with one little smile…and a “smile is the beginning of love.”