The Smile Story

Hi, I’m Jules. When I was in the first grade, I smiled. I smiled all the time especially when I walked into the lunch room. The “big kids” started calling me Smiley. So everyday at lunch, I would smile so big my eyes would squint and I could feel my teeth touch the inside of my cheeks.

Somewhere, in the adventure between then and now, I nearly lost my smile.

Three years ago, shortly after finishing a business degree, I cringed at the thought of going back for a masters. Grades, writing term papers, and staying up until 2 AM on a Wednesday night to read turned my stomach. So I found the Transformative Leadership and Social Change (TLSC) program at the Tai Sophia Institute.

In TSLC if I showed up, read a few books, and wrote a few bits, I passed. I remembered how to smile and when I smiled, I noticed other people smiled too.

Along the way some of my co-workers and friends have asked me, “What’s your degree going to get you? A promotion?”

I would laugh. I didn’t know what to say because, until now, I really wasn’t sure.

Turns out, I’ve found my smile, and I am the same girl I was at six. I smile so big that a smile is permanently etched into the corner of my eyes. A smile has become a way to let anger and annoyance pass quickly, to break tension in a room, and to meet new people.

Here’s an example: Today, I stopped at a gas station and I was in line for the gas pumps. A woman walked out of the gas station with two bags plastic bags. She went to the car in front of mine. I put my car into gear. The woman put the bags in the car. I smiled. She took the pump out of her car and closed her gas cap. I smiled. She opened her trunk and took out a thermal bag. I felt a tension in the back of my throat and my teeth ground together. My hands gripped the steering wheel tightly.

I stopped. I breathed. I smiled.

Then I turned the car off. The tension in my throat and my jaw released. A few minutes later the car in front of woman’s car left, and I maneuvered in front of her to get gas.

Three years ago, I would have either left the gas station or yelled at the woman who only wanted her groceries to stay cold. I would have been angry all night, not slept a wink, and spent the next day with an ache in my jaw and my temples.

Our smiles matter.

Sometimes I forget to practice smiling. If you happen to catch me in those moments, please help me out and remind me:

Stop. Breathe. Smile.

I will remember to remind you.

I am nearing the end of my formal course work at Tai Sophia. Smile Gone Viral is an assignment. My assignment is to offer something to your community and see what happens. I chose to give away a few of the things I learned.

Stop: Is what you are going to do next really what you want the people around you to remember? Is this what you want to remember?

Breathe: Breathe deep in your belly, fill up all the parts of your lungs. Now let that breath go. You can’t take in anymore until you let something out.

Smile: If for no other reason, everyone within eyesight will wonder what happened or maybe they’ll smile too.

Stop. Breathe. Smile.

You might find a magnet stuck in an odd place as you are rushing about, a sign in a public restroom, or a sign while you are driving. My intention is that you are reminded:

Stop. Breathe. Smile.

If you have found yourself here, this is our chronicle. This is a place where you may also come to share your smile.

Tell me: What happens when you smile? What changes? Who changes?

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4 Responses to The Smile Story

  1. Crystal Smith says:

    Smiles are the greatest…and they are Free ! Smiles are so very easy to share. A simple smile given freely just may be the brightest moment in someone’s day. Share a smile …the person receiving will most likely smile at someone else, and so on. Smiles are catching…no pill needed. When you walk past a mirror or a window glass, give yourself a smile to brighten your day. :o)

  2. I like your smile practice. Goes right along with my gratitude practice! 🙂

Where did your Stop.Breathe.Smile moment take you today?

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