“A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.” William Arthur Ward
I’ve never met a smile that made me sad or even mad. Smiling ups our health quotient and keeps our life force flowing … Yet, many of us go through a typical day without a smile on our faces, and then we feel so burdened by the weight of the world and our responsibilities. If we would take moments, deliberate moments, throughout the day to just pause and smile… The quality of our life in general will shift positively. Try it.
Once a man was walking along a beach. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Off in the distance, he could see a person going back and forth between the surf’s edge and the beach. Back and forth this person went. As the man approached, he could see that there were hundreds of starfish stranded on the sand as the result of the natural action of the tide.
The man was struck by the apparent futility of the task. There were far too many starfish. Many of them were sure to perish. As he approached, the person continued the task of picking up starfish, one by one, and throwing them into the surf.
“You must be crazy. There are thousands of miles of beach covered with starfish. You can’t possibly make a difference,” he said. The person looked at the man, stooped down, picked up one more starfish and threw it back into the ocean and then said: “It sure made a difference to that one!”
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” Thich Nhat Hanh
When we make the effort to connect with others, a smile is a great opening act; we can project it outwards, by lifting our eyes to meet the gaze of another or demurely lowering our eyes as we flash a smile… All help us move from a place of rigidity to a space of flexibility. It takes effort and it works…
A mother, wishing to encourage her son’s progress at the piano, bought tickets to a performance by the great Polish pianist Ignace Paderewski. When the evening arrived, they found their seats near the front of the concert hall and eyed the majestic Steinway waiting on the stage. Soon the mother found a friend to talk to, and the boy slipped away.
At eight o’clock, the lights in the auditorium began to dim, the spotlights came on, and only then did they notice the boy – up on the piano bench, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” His mother gasped in shock and embarrassment but, before she could retrieve her son, the master himself appeared on the stage and quickly moved to the keyboard.
He whispered gently to the boy, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.” Leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in the bass part. Soon his right arm reached around the other side and improvised a delightful obbligato. Together, the old master and the young novice held the crowd mesmerized with their blended and beautiful music.
In our lives, we receive helping hands – some we notice, some we don’t. We have countless opportunities to provide helping hands – sometimes we would like our assistance to be noticed, sometimes we don’t. Little of what we achieve is without learning from others and without support from others; what we receive we should hand out.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Leo F. Buscaglia
When we find ourselves in trying situations or are feeling fear and discouragement, turning to a positive tool can help clear the air… Try a big hearty smile in front of a mirror before that difficult meeting… It can shift the debris.
Testing for gossip
In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, “Do you know what I just heard about your friend?” “Hold on a minute,” Socrates replied. “Before telling me anything I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.” “Triple filter?”
“That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you’re going to say. That’s why I call it the triple filter test. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?” “No,” the man said, “Actually I just heard about it and …”
“All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?” “No, on the contrary…”
“So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him, but you’re not certain it’s true. You may still pass the test though, because there’s one filter left: the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?” “No, not really …”
“Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?”
We can always shift the gears on our thinking… More below.