I know this time of year we are busy wrapping up the school year, trying our best to get our lawns in shape, and working hard to clean out all the old junk in our homes. We are used to giving away old clothes, and out dated electronics in some cases too for all new upgrades. What about in our pantry? American’s over-consume a lot of things, but our waste of food seems to be the worst. I invite you to look through your pantry especially and donate anything that has not yet expired that you know you or your family will not consume before its expiration date. There are many food banks that desperately need items to help in your community. There are many families that can not afford to put not only a health meal on the table, but enough that everyone gets enough to eat. Many children go to bed starving, even in some middle class neighborhoods.
There is always the mantra of picking ourselves up after the dust has settled, in an effort to coax us into getting over difficulties easier. What if the dust never really settles, as you are constantly reminded of the past, therefore you can never really let go? Some cultures believe that we never really leave things behind, they are always a part of us – even the Bible reminds us of that as well in various contexts. We may be forgiven of the sin, but still carry the weight and memory of it – lest temptation reigns supreme and we are back down that hole. But what about when we have to say, “It’s finally time to move on.” Where does that now lead us to move on to? Another person? Another town? Another memory? A lot of us may move on, but we may move on to the same issues packaged in a different environment or person.
With Winter finally coming to a dramatic close this past week, we are left with the memory of bitter temperatures, snow days, and potholes. It can be a very frustrating season for some people for various reasons. Not much sunlight, shorter days, very cold days, getting snowed in, running out of bread, milk, and eggs can contribute to forms of depression. What about those who find this season emotionally draining? For some, it’s hard to find happiness getting through the holidays, even with an army of family around. Are you making time to exercise those important muscles? I’m not talking about your quads or some latest fitness fad. I’m talking about your smile.
How often are we shuffling around too busy with life’s demands and forget to smile? There are times where it can make a strangers day, week, or even their year just to experience a warm, friendly smile. It makes them feel welcomed, appreciated, and a part of society. It can be more powerful than anything else. This transaction can happen anywhere too. Whether you are buying a cup of coffee or casually walking through a park – let friendliness win. These small steps can impact not just your life, but those around you.
With a new season in bloom, Spring brings wonderful opportunity with its longer, warmer days, and Italian Ice. Are we doing more than just the usual Spring Cleaning? How about we challenge ourselves to Spring Clean our attitudes. Leave the doldrums with Old Man Winter and put a smile between you and that attractive stranger. You never know who that other person could be in your life, so take a chance. It will start a chain reaction to others that is free with no requirements.
If you have a friend or acquaintance you haven’t heard from in a while, why not make contact? See that stressed out Mom in aisle 6? Offer her a friendly grin with empathy. That may be something she desperately needed all week. Do you know someone who needs this reminder? Definitely pass it along to them. That small phrase, “I was thinking about you” can mean a lot to someone and put a much needed smile on their face.
In our modern time, it is so easy to get lost in the functions of your smart phones or tablets. It is very easy to avoid making eye-contact anymore because we are adapting the ability to walk, talk, chew gum, and text on our devices. Social contact is being smothered by technology, and it is evident in the way most people treat each other in every day situations. I have seen people so hardened by being bothered because they had to look away from their hand held device for a mere 10-15 seconds. Let’s make a conscience effort to reconnect, reflect, and encourage a smile. Happiness is not that hard to find if we are willing to look for it. Make a strangers day and yours will be made as well.