I’ve recently found myself speaking with people whose lives have been invaded by despair. Real despair. The kind that magnifies that feeling of emptiness in your stomach. The kind of despair that makes people feel like hope is lost, or at the very least that the end of the tunnel can’t yet be seen. It can be heartbreaking. But within the despair I see an opportunity for those of us that are outside looking in.
I met a woman whose husband is ill. He is still young in the grand scheme of things, and has been ill for some time; too long, especially considering his age. I could see in her eyes that time has taken its toll. The hope was there, but the light at the end of the tunnel was not yet a glimmer. I had an opportunity to offer a quick bit of humor, a smile and an encouraging word.
I knew I wasn’t going to change her world forever. She may have even walked away from our encounter and not even remembered it happened. But for a moment, however brief, I saw her smile. In that one moment, there was a sense of life different from what she had experienced in the moment before.
It is my hope that both my smile and encouragement were a spark beneath the tinder. The beginnings of an idea that life will go on, and it can be good.
It’s hard, I know. Believe me. In the days immediately after my dad passed away, the most distant thing I could come to terms with was the idea that happiness and joy and hope were real. It is a concept that still plagues my family to some degree.
But the fact that it is so difficult is what makes it that much more important to remember. We must always believe. Always. No matter how difficult.
In spite of how difficult…
It is also that much more important to remember for those of us on the outside looking in, that we have opportunity to help those that find it so difficult. And it all begins with a simple smile.
And for those of you “Grumps” out there that may read this and maybe disagree, let me try to change the perspective for you. I may or may not convince you, and that’s okay, but maybe I’ll give you some food for thought. So here goes…
When I need the most encouragement for me, the most inspiration, the most hope when I feel hope is lost, the one place I know I can find it is in a smile. Not when someone makes me smile, but when I can make someone else smile. Nothing more, nothing less. A simple smile. I like to see someone’s face light up, their eyes brighten and maybe even to see a little more pep in their step. Not always for them, but for me. For me. So think about this…Maybe when YOU need it most, give someone else a little hope. Think about it.
What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
And remember, we’re not talking rocket science. No elaborate schemes, programs or chores. A smile. One. Simple. Smile.
It’s free. It doesn’t take a lot of time, and you can do it anywhere, at any time. That’s pretty much the definition of simple. And here’s a challenge for those of you whose smiles come a little more frequently than the Grumps: For fun see how many Grumps you can get to smile in a day. Count them as you’re out and about. The Grumps are easy to spot in their Grump uniform. Lemon sour lips, stodgy kind of walk, crinkle between the eyes.
Kind of like Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets, but without the felt skin and balcony seats.
Oh…And to all you Grumps out there that are up for a challenge. Try seeing how many people you can get to smile in a day too. Do it for me, as a favor. Heck, give it 110% for a day just to prove me wrong, that making others smile isn’t contagious. But beware, you might find that not only is it contagious but that it’s addicting too.
I know from experience. I met a woman who needed a smile. I know I didn’t change her world forever, but I did for a moment.
And that’s a start…