Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The world looks brighter from behind a smile

Cheesy, I know. But as I have been looking at my thoroughly narcissistic collection of pictures from Maine, I have noticed one common denominator in the all-too-numerous pictures of me—I am smiling in every one. And I look really happy (not even pained, which sometimes happens).

Now I am back. Back home, back at work, back in the usual routine. Which is fine, because without some routine life would be chaos. Routine is good because it allows me to glide through some aspects of my life and job without spending a lot of time worrying what to do next. That way I can focus on things that need more energy and back off a bit at other times.

But with routine and predictability comes a little loss of energy, a little less excitement about what the world has to offer. And in my going through the motions of my day, I don't think I smile enough. In fact, there are times when I can feel myself not smiling. Sure, a stern expression is appropriate in some circumstances,* but really, at the grocery store on the way home at night? No wonder the clerks sometimes** tell me I look tired!

So I am going to try to smile more. Not just at the Starbucks clerks who make me my life-saving quad lattes, but at more people who come across my path during the day. My clients, their parents (as difficult as they may be), probation counselors, other attorneys, even my friends and family. I will smile like there's a camera pointed at me, or like I'm looking at a 2-pound lobster, or a big hunk of fresh-baked bread, or a whoopie pie*** (well, you can see where I'm going with this)—or like I've finished a really great run and am about to go see the Sex and the City movie.

I'm testing this right now by smiling at a picture of one of our attorneys that is on the calendar beside me (baby steps—first photographs, then real people). And you know what? Not only does smiling make me look happy (presumably), it makes me feel happy too. Like a quick shot of seratonin, but cheaper than a shopping spree, easier than a 10K, and less calories than a whoopie pie.

I realize this new "smiling policy" creates a risk that I will look like a grinning idiot at times,**** but I suspect that I will have no problem switching to to a thoughtful scowl as needed. I'm just going to try to keep those scowls to a minimum.

*And isn't that why I have the dark-rimmed glasses?


***Or big piece of cake with frosting, which is really just about the same thing, but inside out. Or, for that matter, a scoop of Ben & Jerry's cinnamon buns ice cream, which I tried in Kennebunkport, and is pretty much heaven in a dish. I think it may be the post-race treat that both Laura and I could agree on!

****See various race pictures in which I try to smile for the photographer while running. On second thought, please don't!


Terri said...

So well written, Kristin, really. Thank you for reminding me to do that - there has been far too little smiling going on at my work lately. And I think when you smile more, you start to notice the little gifts you get each day, such as a beautiful sunset, etc. I think I will need to keep coming back to this post of yours whenever I need a perspective-check.

Terri said...

oh and by the way, yes, the guy you saw on the new 90210 was on Melrose Place. His name is Rob Estes, and he was actually married to Josie Bissett, who played Jane!