This morning I ran a couple of errands. First stop was my credit union. As I pulled into the parking lot, a firetruck was there in front of the business next door. Glad that my need to bank was not impeded, I entered the credit union and stood in line waiting for a teller.

A moment later, I noticed a fireman coming down the stairs. He had apparently been checking something upstairs related to their being in shopping center next door to the other business. I could tell that “everything was OK”. As I watched, our eyes met and a big friendly grin stretched across his face. It was the smile of a friendly stranger that has that infectious nature such that you cannot help but smile. I watched as he left the building holding the door for others entering, each of their faces moving from emotionless to happy in a split second. My spirits were lifted. When the teller called me up, I could not help but smile at her in the same way leading her to smiling back broadly.

Next stop was Starbucks. I entered the shop still feeling the “up” that the credit union interactions had given me. I’m not sure that I was smiling, but the clerk behind the counter who took my order sure was. Once again, I felt that “kindness high” that comes when others are being more friendly than expected. I could feel the smile returning to my face and an overall sense of playfulness filled my mind. I could not help but smile and joke with those around me.

Do these scenes sound familiar in your life?

I LOVE it when I am out and about in the world and I bump into such moments that lift my spirits. The thing is that such smiling people are out there ready to “make our day” if we are open to seeing them. However, what I have noticed is that sometimes I tend to focus on the frowners, the unhappy people who are down on life and down at this particular moment….and when I focus on them, they tend to take me down with them.

Today’s errand run reminded me of two very important lessons:

One: We have a choice each moment to focus on the good things, the happiness that is around us…..or to focus on the bad things, the anger, the fear, the overall lack of joy that others are expressing. Life is so much more enjoyable when I focus on the good.

Two: We have a choice in each moment to express to the world joy and happiness…..or to express anger and fear. What we choose to express not only impacts our personal feelings in that moment, it also cascades outward to others and has the potential to impact others like ripples on a pond.

Yes, the world has a lot of experiences that are not what we would personally choose to go through….and there are moments when it is only normal to express fear, sadness, anger and the like….but more often than not, our drops of experience are not steeped with such negativity….if we are honest with ourselves, in most moments we can choose to be happy or to be sad….we can choose to smile or to frown.

I don’t know about you, but I like my world better when I experience joy and happiness. I love it when I encounter one of the smiling people.

I want to be one of the smiling people.

Mark Gilbert


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