In brainstorming ideas of fifty somethings, I thought of trying to smile at a minimum of five people for 50 days. Sri Chinmoy's philosophy places great emphasis on happiness, cheerfulness, and taking a positive approach to life.
I have only four tasks
Smile, fly, dive and run.
I have only three tasks
Smile, fly and dive.
I have only two tasks
Smile and fly.
I have only one task
-Sri Chinmoy, Excerpt from The Dance Of Life, Part 15
I have been already doing some random acts of smiling but have yet to start with an actual smile diary to see if I achieve the goal until today. What struck me almost right away is how immediate the reaction is from others when you smile at them.
They almost always immediately smile back and a feeling of connection unfurls even if you are a complete stranger to the person smiling back at you.
Now I am taking the time to bring mindful awareness and a child-like spirit to my interactions with others through the simplicity of a smile.
As I hovered on the edge of formally starting towards the goal, I had some feelings of trepidation about how I could smile at 5 people on the days when I am not at work, live alone and perhaps don't see many people in the course of the day.
Today was one such day but I easily reached the goal after all. I went walking on a bike path near my house and shared sunny smiles with 6 people. Over and over I found that if I smiled at someone as I walked past them that they would smile back, call out hello or even speak to me.
Then right after sunset I went for another walk and shared two more smiles. In one instance I approached a man walking his dog and called out that it looked like a Hush Puppy dog. I smiled, met the dog and by the time that I said, "well I'll let you finish your walk now" the dog's owner smiled broadly at me and said good-bye.
So wow! 8 smiles even though I spent a good part of the day alone. One thing which will keep me feeling challenged is also a little bit of a surprise. The hardest people to smile at were the ones I knew the best. Isn't it sometimes harder to offer goodwill to the people we know best - the people who are "family". I saw some of them today as well and I don't think I smiled at them. So I have more learning to do in this smile experiment...
Day 1 - Sunday July 11th - 8 smiles - infinite blessings.
Day 2 - Monday July 12th - lost track but definitely more than 5. Interesting moments included a smile that turned into a block-long conversation about the weather while walking in the morning, the sighting of a small bunny rabbit who hopped very fast and made me smile, smiling at 2 co-workers, calling someone one on the phone and when they were in the building I got to walk over and smile at them. Also smiled at a woman walking with family, little baby in her arms and a dog the size of a horse!
Day 3 - Tuesday July 13th - This was an easy one. Today a magician performed at work for our Summer Reading program and I introduced the afternoon show. I smiled at people as they arrived, at the magician and at some of my co-workers.
Day 4 - Wednesday July 14th - Today a lot of smiles came when joking around with my co-workers. Smiles as part of laughter felt good! When waiting on customers at work, I definitely experienced the reciprocal smile phenomenon. In my morning meditation, I also tried to imagine I was smiling at God :-) . Also, while putting out trash on the curb, my neighbor from across the street was in the mood for conversation because his wife is out of town and he isn't working right now. I told him, "I won't only say hello, I will smile at you too!"
Day 5 - Thursday July 15th - I managed 5 today but truthfully it didn't come automatically or naturally. Still working out of a "shoebox" instead of at my usual location and feeling discouraged about how the disruption has caused me to make more than my share of stupid mistakes. At least I had this smile goal in my awareness too so that I could observe and try to stay positive even if it wasn't automatic.
Day 6 - Friday July 16th - My day off of work featured more gaffes - can I just go be a hermit in a cave until my mid-life transitions are over??!! My smiles today mostly came as I did errands, shopping, etc. I'm pretty sure I managed 5 but then for good measure went into a toy store to try to cheer myself up and ended up having a long conversation with the shopkeeper about Nepal. Guess the grown up version of a toy store can offer fascination in different ways.
Day 7 - Saturday July 17th - Back at work and waiting on customers at the desk makes it easy to do 5 today. I'm pondering selections from Sri Chinmoy's writing about the power of smiles in a book called Love, Joy and Happiness which regretfully is not available full-text online.
Day 8 - Sunday July 18th - Uh-oh! I don't think I did it today. My day started with a centre meditation in the morning and it had already begun when I walked in. Then I spent most of the day with a friend and didn't come across too many opportunities to smile at people passing by. Oops! Never give up - tomorrow will have to be called Day 8 again.
Day 8a - Monday July 19th - I guess this Smile Diary is really getting under my skin. Last night I dreamt that I had to be sure to smile at 5 people. I must have had this dream because of my unfinished smiling day yesterday. Needless to say, today I was bound and determined to smile and in part because I waited on a lot of patrons at the library I met the goal and then some today.
Day 9 - Tuesday July 20th - Back on track with gusto! Today I had smiled at 12 people by a little after 9 am. Most were at the bike path near my house where we all must have been trying to evade the heat by going out early. I must have smiled at at least 20 people today. A puppet show at work today also pleased the childlike part of me immensely. Laugh out loud funny for sure.
Day 10 - Wednesday July 21st - 2 while walking before going to work - some with co-workers, customers and one sweet one with a child who came in to the library.
Day 11 - Thursday July 22nd - Most of my smiles today were with co-workers, volunteers, children at my work for a Summer Reading activity and their parents.
Day 12 - Friday July 23rd - Smiling at customers at work today - almost up to 5 at my lunch hour but will surely get there by the time I leave for the day.
Day 13 - Saturday July 24th - in Queens this weekend. Walked past someone in the street early Saturday morning and smiled at him. He looked at me in a very puzzled manner - like he was trying to figure out if he was supposed to know me, or if I was crazy or something. Reminded me of how the Compliment Guys made out when they tried their free compliments in downtown Manhattan. Today I mostly smiled at people I knew in New York and at people at the 3100 mile race, the 2 mile race, etc.
Day 14 - Sunday July 25th - similar to yesterday - felt good to share smiles with Sri Chinmoy Centre members.
Day 15 - Monday July 26th - today I mostly smiled at people I waited on at work. Then when I went walking after work I smiled at another 5 people.
Day 16 - Tuesday July 27th - today we had a wonderful performer named Roger Tincknell for our Summer Reading program and I smiled at lots of children.
Day 17 - Wednesday July 28th - today we made rainsticks with the kids and the lion's share of my smiles were with children again today.
Day 18 - Thursday July 29th - rainsticks again at work today - I think I barely made 5 smiles today. I was majorly stressed out - life with being Mom to a rescued cat really has me feeling like I have my hands full.
Day 19 - Friday July 30th - Today was my day off - did lots of errands, shopping, ate lunch out. I didn't carefully keep track but I'm pretty sure I did 5 smiles.
Day 20 - Saturday July 31st - Back at work today - mostly smiled at patrons coming into the library.
Day 21 - Sunday August 1st - I was home all day and didn't see people to smile at until I went out walking at sunset. I didn't actually do it five times today so tomorrow will have to be day 21.
Day 21A - Monday August 2nd - Because I didn't reach 5 smiles yesterday, I made sure to smile a lot today.
Day 22 Tuesday August 3rd - Day 23 Wednesday August 4th - Day 24 Thursday August 5th - Day 26 August 7th: These work days shared a similar pattern. I shared smiles with co-workers, children coming to the library who I interact with as I wear the Children's Librarian hat this summer and people I waited on at the main desk where I work.
Day 27 - Saturday August 8th - Today I stayed close to the roost on my day off to keep company with my new cat. If I could count smiling at the cat instead of people, I would have 5 for today. Otherwise I better count tomorrow as Day 27 not today.
Day 27A - Sunday August 9th -- Today I got in at least 5 smiles when I went out doing errands to the pet store and to Whole Foods. My smile was especially sincere when 2 other customers in Petco shared advice on the subject of cats who have an aversion to using a litter box. Then I got in 3 more smiles while out walking as the sun set.
Day 28 - Monday August 10th - Day 29 - Tuesday August 11th - Day 30 - Wednesday August 12th - Day 31 -Thursday August 13th - Day 32 - Friday August 14th - Day 33 - Saturday August 15th - Like the previous week, my smiles were mostly with people I interact with on the job. Our main building where I usually work closed again after reopening for only one week. There was also some unfortunate news that came on Thursday August 12th which was work-related. I am trying to view the disruptions and difficult circumstances which inevitably arise in life as opportunities to persevere. I really hope and am pretty sure that I smiled at people regularly this week but it was truthfully less sincere. At least until a party for the children outdoors on Saturday August 14th where I am caught on camera in multiple photos smiling widely. (Phew!!)
Day 34 - Sunday August 15th - Today the World Harmony Run came to Rhode Island and the team was welcomed at a ceremony at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket where the Pawtucket Red Sox play. An estimated 10,000 people were in attendance. They played my favorite World Harmony Run video on the giant screen while the team ran around the field with the torch. Then they went to a Bolivian-American festival in dowtown Providence at the Ice Rink where they were warmly, warmly received. The costumes for the traditional culture dancers were amazing. The evening featured a great meditation and dinner at our Rhode Island Sri Chinmoy Centre. No shortage of smiles today!!!
Day 35- Monday August 16th - Day 36 - Tuesday August 17th - Day 37 - Wednesday August 18th - Day 38 - Thursday August 19th - Day 39 - Friday August 20th - This week my smiles were mostly with people I interacted with at work. Now that I have been doing this for over a month it is getting to be an ingrained habit to smile at people. Realizing that feels good!
Day 40 - Saturday August 21st - I came to New York on spiritual retreat and enjoyed smiling at many of my spiritual brothers and sisters in town for the retreat from countries around the world.
Day 41 - Sunday August 22nd - Today we enjoyed a circus and sideshow in a rented gymnasium at a local college as part of our spiritual gathering. I decided there was no reason I could not smile at 50 people today instead of 5 considering I had almost smiled at 5 before arriving at a local restaurant to help cook lunch for several hundred people on our retreat. I didn't mark it off on a sheet of paper but kept count in my head informally. I believe I did do 50 smiles. Awesome!
Day 42 - Monday August 23rd - Day 43 - Tuesday August 24th - Day 44 - Wednesday August 25th - Day 45 - Thursday August 26th - These days I was at work but not in my usual location interacting frequently with the public. I did manage 5 smiles a day but it was a little harder.
Day 46 - Friday August 27th - Day 47 - Saturday August 28th - Day 48 - Sunday August 29th - These 3 days I was back in New York, rejoining the ongoing spiritual retreat. On Friday I got to ride on the World's Largest Seesaw - new Guinness World Record set at our gathering. Boy did I smile a lot that day! I loved getting the opportunity to ride on the seesaw.On Saturday I went to Greenwich Village during the day to be there for a Songs of the Soul Concert at NYU on Saturday night. Someone took my photo standing in front of Washington Square's arch. Guess what? I'm smiling in the photo.
Day 49 - Monday August 30th - I'm back at work interacting frequently with the public so smile opportunities are many. Day 50 -Tuesday August 31st - Same story!
Hooray I have reached 5 smiles a day for 50 days. I will surely continue to try to doing this as a permanent habit!