Life is difficult, and we need all of the social support that we can get. Life can be sad, and we need all of the happy relationships we can get. Life can be tortuous for those with physical ailments, and we need all of the cheer we can get.
The biggest issue is that life is short. Every time I turn around another day, another month, and another year goes by, until at one point, there will be no more days.
Don’t waste life by worrying about things that cannot be changed, being stressed over things that are not important in the long run, (like keeping a perfectly clean house, cooking the perfect meal, or providing the best Christmas gift.) Instead, nourish relationships, for they are the key to a happy life.
Some relationships are minimal, like holding the door and smiling as a customer follows you into Dave’s Marketplace, waving to let a car cut you in line at the Greenwood Bridge, or joining the entourage of cars as they finagle around the rotaries in Apponaug with ease; no anger or frustration. Stopping at a very long red light could be an annoyance, but can also be a slight respite if one smiles and thinks of something happy.
Then there are the more social relationships, which are also important in life; attending a service at a religious institute, going to eat at a restaurant where the waitress knows your name, attending a reading group at the library, and playing, or having a child play, a particular sport. Also included are waving hello to the mailperson, cashing a check at a familiar bank, volunteering for Meals on Wheels, or any other positive interaction with a recognizable person. There are opportunities to smile everywhere in our community.
Of course, one would hope to get the bulk of our smiling when with our families. In order to maximize these opportunities, it is important to maintain relationships in a positive fashion, even if we disagree. Arguing and negatively judging our family members, or holding a grudge against a wrong doing, or constantly “dissing” a family member can cause negative effects, both for the “disser” and the “disee.” Remember, life is short and we need all the cheer we can get.
The benefits of smiling are well known. A genuine smile releases endorphins which can reduce the body’s stress responses, lower heart rate and lower blood pressure. The brain also increases immunoglobulin, which the immune system uses to kill viruses and bacteria. Most interesting is that smiling can increase one’s life span. A study done by Dr. Laura Kubzansky, professor at Harvard School of Public Health, did a 20-year study which determined that people who smile are less inclined to engage in unsafe behaviors such as addiction and have increased heart disease and stroke. People who smile have less diabetes and depression, and live longer, healthier lives. Longer lives. Longer happy lives by smiling. Who can argue with that?