Yesterday in my Wellness lecture, we touched on a lot of different things, but the main focus was psychological health. Probably my favorite part of class was when we got to talking about when we’re happy. For me, it’s easy to get into a deep philosophical discussion about happiness as an extended state of being versus a temporary condition versus a handful of chemicals you can get from a pharmacy (courtesy my inquiry seminar from last semester, Brain Enhancement). BUT that’s not what was discussed. It was way better. It was all of it. It was all the things, big and little, you do or experience throughout your day that might make you happy. You could choose anything that makes you happy to share with your group, however silly or trivial or ridiculous it may have been.
This wasn’t on my list, but it definitely should have been. Part One of Happiness: I am happy when other people make me smile.
That’s too easy, right? Maybe it is. And I’ve talked about it before. But it’s true. Smiles are incredibly powerful. Potent. They’re contagious, infectious. Fast-acting. When people make me smile, I’m automatically happy. I’m actually pretty sure the use of those facial muscles triggers an emotional response (I know there’s a study on that somewhere out there). It could be a corny joke (Cobber humor at its finest), just someone randomly complimenting me on a scarf, or even laughing at the way I talk (I still can’t believe some of y’all think I sound funny).
That’s the most amazing thing, though: When someone goes out of their way, makes a tiny bit of extra effort, to make my day. It’s so easy to do, make someone’s day. That girl holding the door for you? Let her know you think she looks exceptional when you toss her a quick ‘thank you.’ (I kid you not, this might change the course of an entire week.) The guy sitting at the far table in the library? You heard him sing one night in the Maize (or any place you could hear someone sing), and it was amazing! Tell him. Or hey, it’s Wednesday. There is very little emotional significance to a Wednesday, in my opinion. So what better time to drop a sweet note, or some flowers, or a Buffalo Wild Wings gift card, in a loved one’s mailbox/doorway/office/etc.? That’s right. There is no better time than right now. It doesn’t even have to be a material thing. In fact, I am going to text my brothers after I post this, and tell them exactly what they mean to me. Because all we’re guaranteed is right now. This second, this moment. And then it’s gone. So, yes, when someone takes a couple extra steps and a couple extra breaths to tell me he thinks my hair is pretty, I’m happy. When I get a massively (and wonderfully) long text from a friend back home, telling me that she feels just as connected to me, like she can still talk to me as if I’m right there, even though we haven’t seen each other for months, yes, I’m happy. Because he didn’t have to do that. She didn’t have to do that. They had their ‘right now’s, and they chose to spend them on me.
Think about that for a second. Some people know all too well that one second, that one tiny moment, would change everything.
We, as individuals gifted and blessed with multiple means of communication, have an unbelievable power of influence that should not be taken lightly. I think we sometimes take it for granted. And I think we sometimes misuse it. It’s a choice. Choose to smile. Choose to make other people smile.
This post is dedicated to the memory of a young woman who chose. She gave an infinite number of smiles, and left us with infinitely more.
Suzannah Catherine Piercy
December 26, 1995 – Forever. Forever, sweet girl. I promise.