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S is for Smile

S is for Smile
This entry is part 19 of 27 in the series A to Z

It can go one of two ways. With a smile, it’s usually going to go well.

Another driver and I arrived at the merging lane at the same time. It wasn’t clear who would go first. It could have been a fist–or a finger–but I made it a smile. It was a fork in the road for the day.

Maybe I’m just a happy-go-lucky guy. Maybe I sometimes think the world goes around in overly simplistic ways. But take the two cars merging. The woman driving clearly saw my face, my window was even rolled down. I wasn’t planning on some kumbayah moment to zen out my day, I just needed to get into the lane so I could make a right and go pick up my kids from school.

It only took about two seconds: one second to decide which way to go (smile or scowl). Another second to smile.

You know when those moments are, they happen everyday. You have a choice, it’s partly yours, you can decide which way the interaction is going to go. It’s going to go poorly or it’s going to go well. It’s quite simple. It’s almost mathematical, but there’s an art to it. You don’t always want to smile and it’s not always the best solution to the case at hand. But when there’s that doubt, when it could go either way, choose the smile. See where it takes you. What’s the worst that could happen?

How could these people be wrong?

How could these people be wrong?

Back in Germany, Mr. Formal Boss/Friend noticed that I mixed up something at the copier. I made a mistake. I shrugged it off, laughed at myself, and started to do it over. He didn’t tell me at that moment, but years later he brought it up. He said he would never forget it. Remember, this is a German manager in a huge plastics company in formal Germany. He couldn’t get that I laughed at myself for making a mistake, that I didn’t take myself so seriously, that I shrugged off a mistake I made, even laughed about it, and moved along as if it was nothing. That’s because it was nothing, I don’t take myself too seriously, and if you don’t laugh at yourself someone else might and you beat them to the punch–then there’s nothing left to laugh at.

It could have been a scowl and a bad day. But how could your day go badly facing this smile? [Chimanimani, Zimbabwe]

It could have been a scowl and a bad day. But how could your day go badly facing this smile? [Chimanimani, Zimbabwe]

Series Navigation<< R is for RespectT is for Trust >>

About The Author

Bradley

I don't like to call them excuses. They're priorities. With a handful of exceptions, we usually have a choice in our actions. They just need to be prioritized.

6 Comments

  1. Another Clean Slate

    Love this! I am a firm believer in killing with kindness. It’s amazing what power a smile has with some people 🙂

    Reply
    • Bradley

      I like Killing with Kindness. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Jodie

    Bradley, what a brilliant post – you are so right! It makes you feel good to choose the smile option too I think. Thank you so much for my Liebster nomination. I’m sorry I have to pass. Too much writing – I did one only last week! So flattered though, and excited to follow your blog. Thanks for finding me! Jodie at sothisis40-really.blogspot.com

    Reply
    • Bradley

      Thanks, Jodie! The Liebster is actually a bit of work, isn’t it!? I didn’t realize until I did it … but then I had done it. Thanks for the follow, Jodie!

      Reply
  3. cynkingfeeling

    This post made me think . . . and smile. Nicely done.

    Reply
    • Bradley

      Think AND smile? I can’t ask for more than that. I have succeeded! Thanks so much for the comment!

      Reply

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