A Reason to Smile | 10 Enduring Ways to Keep Smiling

By on Nov 20, 2008

15 Comments


If you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it. – Andy Rooney

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to smile, it only takes one reason. Our lives can be stressful and complicated at times, but that doesn’t mean laughter, happiness and serving up a warm, beautiful smile can’t fill the gaps in between.

Perhaps if we can think of more reasons to smile, the gaps might become further apart and the energy our smiles provide will have a better chance of sustaining our efforts to look for the positive that exists around us. Maybe, our smiles can help us stay in the positive a little while longer, too.

There’s no question disappointment will continue to occur (that’s just part of the natural ebb and flow of life), and when the sadness does come again, having an inventory of what brings us comfort and a heartwarming reason to smile is good to have on hand.

Here are my reasons to smile:

  • Sharing family stories after dinner. It’s rare when all six of us are together for a meal. Next week, on Thanksgiving Day, will be one of those times. More than the food or the football, I’m looking forward to the time when the meal is over and my family lingers at the table sharing family stories. Recalling these times with a mix of off-beat humor and true nostalgia fills our dining room with laughter and brings a thankful smile to everyone in our home.
  • The feeling after a workout. OK, I’m not smiling as I head to the fitness center at 5:00 am. But afterwards, as I’m driving home, it feels good to know I did something that fills me up with confidence and may help me bank a few extra years to keep smiling.
  • A moment of self awareness. Every now and then the dots become connected for me. Something I didn’t see in myself, or realize, is made perfectly clear. These surprising moments of self awareness fill my heart with strength and put a smile of reassurance on my face.
  • An unexpected email from Mary Beth. When my wife’s email address pops into my inbox, I feel like a fifth grader discovering a love note from the cutest 10-year-old girl on the planet. I feel the smile begin to grow from left ear all the way over to my right ear as I open the email and read her special message.
  • A Venti Starbucks coffee with room. There’s no doubt about it: Starbucks sells community, not coffee. My morning stops offer me the chance to see familiar faces with smiles more robust than the coffee. My reaction to smile back is spontaneous and genuine.
  • Receiving a personal message from someone who read one of my articles. I write for many reasons. One reason is because I want to impact other peoples’ lives in a meaningful way. When I hear from someone who has been touched by the words offered, I can’t hold back my smile because I’m thankful to be living on purpose.
  • A tied score late in a Kansas City Royals’ baseball game. The Royals haven’t been exactly tearing it up the past few years. On the nights when the score is close and my team has a chance to win, the energy in the stadium is on fire. I love this feeling. It feels like victory is possible regardless of past performance. Hope makes me smile.
  • When my children get back home safe and sound. The other afternoon when my son arrived home, he told me a schoolmate was killed in a car accident earlier in the day. Our conversation made me remember the night s when Mary Beth and I and will be in that state somewhere between sleep and consciousness so we can hear the turn of the doorknob on the front door. Hearing our children arrive home, unharmed and alive, always settles my mind brings a smile of contentment that stays with me until I surrender to sleep.

10 Enduring Ways to Keep Smiling

No matter what makes you smile or how you define happiness for yourself, there are certain universal and time-proven strategies to bring more happiness, and smiles, into your life.

The following 10 ways to keep smiling can be adapted and even customized to fit your needs. Over time, these strategies will become positive and life-changing habits that will begin to bring more happiness, joy and reasons to smile into your life.

  1. Notice What’s Right. Some of us see the glass as being half-full, while others see the glass as half-empty. The next time you are caught in traffic, begin thinking how nice it is to have a few moments to reflect on the day, focus on a problem you have been trying to solve, or brainstorm on your next big idea. Take all that life throws out you and reframe it with what’s right about the situation. At the end of the day, you will more content, at peace and happy. Take the time to smile and begin to notice what’s right and see the world change in front of your eyes.
  2. Be Grateful. How many times do you say the words “thank you,” in a day? How many times do you hear these same words? If you are doing the first thing, saying the “thank yous,” the latter will naturally happen. Learn to be grateful and you will be open to receive an abundance of joy, happiness and smiles – which will be a pleasure to return.
  3. Remember the Kid You Were. Do you remember how to play? I’m not referring to playing a round of golf or a set of tennis. I’m talking about playing like you did when you were a child – a game of tag; leap frog, or street baseball when the bat is a broken broom handle and the bases are the parked cars. One way to find a reason to smile is to remember the kid you were and play!
  4. Spend Time with Your Friends. Although an abundant social and romantic life does not guarantee bliss, it does have a huge impact on our happiness. Learn to spend time and smile with your friends and then make these friendships a priority in your life.
  5. Savor Every Moment. To be in the moment is to live in the moment. Too often we are thinking ahead or looking ahead to the next event or circumstance in our lives, not appreciating the “here and now.” When we savor every moment, we are savoring the happiness in our lives and finding the reasons right before us to smile.
  6. Move! The expression a “runner’s high” does not infer an addiction, but a feeling or a state of mind – a state of euphoria. There is no question exercise, or any physical exertion, elevates your mood and enhances a more positive attitude as well as fosters better personal self-esteem and confidence. Indeed, one way to keep smiling is to move.
  7. Put on a Happy Face. Sometimes we have to fake it until we make it. I’m not suggesting that we not be honest, real or authentic, but I’m suggesting, sometimes, we just need to put on our best smile and keep moving forward. Researchers claim that smiling and looking like we are happy will indeed make us happier. Studies further show that if we act like we are happy then we can experience greater joy and happiness in our lives.
  8. Finding Your Calling. Some find meaning in religion or spirituality while others find purpose in their work or relationships. Finding your calling may be much more than accomplishing one simple strategy for increasing your happiness, but having a sense of purpose – of feeling like you are here for a reason – may create the best reason of all to smile.
  9. Get into the Flow. Flow is the form of joy, excitement and happiness that occurs when we are so absorbed in an activity we love that we can lose ourselves and time seems to stand still. What creates flow is unique to each one of us. To find and sustain true happiness in our lives, we must get off the sidelines and get into the flow. When we do, the smiles will soon be flowing, too.
  10. Don’t Over Do It. Know when to say when. What provides happiness and causes you to smile the first time may not work the second time. Too much of a good thing may begin not to feel as good if the “thing” becomes more of a routine, or an expectation. Set healthy and reasonable boundaries for yourself and don’t overdo it.
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The BridgeMaker Founder Alex Blackwell is the author of Letting Go: 25 True Stories of Peace, Hope and Surrender. Join the community to connect, share and inspire: Email | Twitter | Facebook | More Posts

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  • ify lilan

    DEAR ALEX, AM HAPPY ABOUT THIS RIGHT UP, I AGREE WITH YOU IN NO 7 , PUTING ON A HAPPY FACE EVEN IF IT MEANS FAKING IT ,AT THE END YOU FIND OUT THAT YOU HAVE ACHIEVED SOMETHING, BECAUSE OF THAT SMILE ON YOUR FACE. AM HAPPY ABOUT IT,AM TOUCHED BECAUSE I DO IT AND IT HAS REALLY GONE A LONG WAY IN MY LIFE.THANK YOU ALEX

  • Hafsa

    I am an 18 yr old in Bangladesh and i would just like to say tht your blogs are truely inspirational…at this point i dont even remember how i came across it but i am so thankful i did…every week i have a new perspective at how to love life…i am sick of being depressed and suicidal all the time…i make the people i love miserable around me…your blogs keep me going and give me hope that I WILL be able to love myself once i achieve half of what u write about and only then I WILL not drive the few good things i have in my life away!
    I have realised that being happy is the reason people would want to be around me and i never really knew how to achieve tht until this article…thanks a lot!!=D

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  • http://www.katiewestlifedesign.com Katie West

    Alex, I really like that you started your list for keeping yourself smiling with
    Notice What is Right and Being Grateful…
    For me, these are too vital parts of keeping me smiling. That and I practice laughter all the time.
    Be well and Thanks.

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