It seems to be such a small gesture. And yet, the atmosphere of an entire community can be shaped by it. Your home, your family, your church, your neighborhood can be uplifted when just one person takes on the simple habit of smiling habitually. Let that one person be you! And learn what it will do for your child. Read and be encouraged!
Right now, where you are, smile. Just smile. Hold it for a moment. Practice this for a minute or so. Smile again. Hold it a little longer than the last time. Read a few more sentences, then check in with your smile again. If it is gone, smile again. We'll get back to this.
A smile is a basic step in creating a Harbor Home for you and your family. It is a voluntary motion and is the beginning of the secure, happy home life you want to give your children. A smile is the universal language of friendship and peace. And smiling is contagious. It is nearly impossible to resist smiling back at someone who is smiling at you.
Think about a time when the pleasure of seeing someone brought on a spontaneous smile. Hold on to that memory for a moment. Now remember the smile you had as you looked at the face of your newborn baby. All the wonder, rapture, and joy of this new life was expressed in the smile on your face. Hold that in your memory for a moment.
Now lock onto the knowledge that Almighty God who made the heavens and the earth is looking at you, right now at this moment, in the same way you looked at your newborn. God is smiling at you. You are His precious creation and His love will not fail. For God is love.
Children who receive the ongoing assurance of their parents' smiles are notably more secure, confident, friendly, well adjusted, and happy. The gentle reminder that all is well is the gift your smile gives your child. When you smile your children sense your approval and that gives them strength to move forward toward the goals and dreams they have.
Your scowling or blank face leaves your children feeling uneasy, insecure, and wondering what they have done wrong. Make no mistake: your children are blaming themselves every time they see you with a grumpy or neutral face. Smiling at them turns that all around.
Are you still smiling? Check the mirror. Smile again. Hang on to the smile. We'll get back to this again. Keep smiling.
Here are my best tips for developing and holding on to the habit of putting smiles into the universe. If we do this together, our society will be changed for the better and our families will be stronger and more unified.
Smile even when you don't "feel like it". What's up with smiling only when you "feel like it"? The moments that we feel like smiling are pretty rare when you get right down to it. Anyone can smile when there's great music playing, the kids are happy, you got a raise at work, and dinner is being delivered tonight. A true smiler smiles when the coworker is snarky, the grumpy church lady complains that your kids ran in the hall, and dinner is still frozen solid. Smile anyway. It helps get you through it.
Practice smiling until it is a habit. I am a habitual smiler. It is something that people comment on when they speak to me or about me. But here is my true confession: it is not in my first nature to smile. I am, by nature, an anxious person who has to beat off fear most of the time. But I decided more than 75% of my lifetime ago that I would not give in to that. I decided to smile. No matter what. It was awkward and challenging at first but then it became a natural part of me. One decision can change your life. Just smile. Even when it seems fake or false or odd. You will get past that and it is worth it.
Check in with your smile. I told you we'd get back to this. A great way to make your smile a part of your everyday face is to practice in the mirror. I know this seems a bit silly, but hear me out. It works. I understand that actors practice facial expressions in a mirror in order to project their character properly. This is kind of the same thing. Look at yourself squarely in the mirror. Try a few smiles. Wide ones, toothy ones, funny ones, understanding ones, all the smiles that communicate positive messages. Imagine what your children see when they see you smile. Consistent practice will make smiling become so natural that you don't even know you are doing it. Smile now and be conscious of what the expression on your face is. Smile on purpose.
Decades ago I made a decision: I did not want my children's mother to be anxious and fearful. I wanted my children's mother to be brave and strong and happy to see them each day. I wanted to lead my children joyfully into a world in which they felt confident of their worth and their place. This large decision led me to one simple decision that has become the hallmark of my presence in my community. I decided to smile. At all times. It changed my life and my outlook on life.
You can make the same decision now. If you do this, I can promise you that you will never regret it. Smile!