Are You Contagious?
Today my book of reflections for teens introduced me to “National Smile Day.” Smiles and laughter are the good medicine of life. A smile is contagious. One smile leads to another and spreads from person to person like wildfire. If I listen carefully, I can even hear a smile in someone’s voice.
The children’s book, “Have You Filled Your bucket Today”?, tells us that it’s our purpose in life to fill our own and someone else’s bucket of good feelings. Smiles are the easiest way to bring good feelings to someone else and to yourself. They are habit forming. They can become a reflex when opening your eyes in the morning.
There are times in our lives when we feel too heavy to smile. We want to hide out at home and drown in our miserable feelings. All of the happiness, the joy in our bucket has been crowded out by misery, pain, sadness, illness, guilt. That’s when we desperately need the smiles of others.
Today, a new friend, Barry, stands front and center in my mind. His purpose in life seemed to be bringing laughter. Over ten years’ of dialysis and recurring cancer didn’t destroy his purpose to bring joy to others. His wife tells me that he died in the midst of a smile. I knew Barry for such a short time, yet he passed his light on to me. I’ll never be able to bring laughter as Barry did, but I have a new awareness of my purpose of filling other’s bucket with good feelings. I smile and think of Barry and pass that smile onto others.
Barry spent his life spreading God’s light of joy and laughter to this world. Now, all of us who knew him have another strong reason to spread God’s light in this world. On our darkest days, we can remember and smile, and say this one’s for Barry. Even in death his light shines, the more brightly as we watch the faces of others light up, at least for a moment, as they return our smile.
As you go about your day, remember to smile at all those you meet. Even if you feel today that the world has turned totally bad, you can smile. After all, this morning as you rose, the sun was shining, you breathed God’s breath of life. God has given you the gift of a new day. Regardless of what happened yesterday, today you can begin again. Today you can help fill someone else’s bucket with good feelings. Regardless of how you are feeling, you can be contagious. You can spread the light of God’s love in your smile. Today, you can initiate a wave of smiles and good feelings that will wrap around our world.
Thank you, Barry for your gift to me.
“A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the
bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)