Smile to Good Health
My office looks like the toy section of PetSmart is recovering from a small tornado. Who knew that a four-legged fur child the size of a wallet could generate such chaos in such a short time? One puppy somehow requires an entire zoo of stuffed squeaky toys, each promptly separated from the squeaky device by razor-sharp teeth. Taz is a Jack Russell Chihuahua mix that moved in while I was on an extended road trip. At least the name fits him.
Morning now starts full speed at 5:30 AM. I am not a morning person but Taz doesn’t seem to care at all. His tail communicates his excitement about the new day and my face is lathered in puppy kisses as he bounds over, under and around the blankets and pillows. The most important part – my day starts with a smile. How can you not smile at the energy and enthusiasm to share another day with the family? Later in the day I’m sure there will be a shredded magazine (or two), a kidnapped sneaker, and probably more than one reason to rethink crate training. With each naughty adventure those soft brown eyes glance up and the tail wags … and I smile.
And smiling is a good thing. Smiling has been said to reduce our stress by releasing endorphins similar to those that are released when you run or workout. Smiling at a puppy takes considerably less effort than a five-mile run in the dead of a Midwestern winter. Smiling reduces our heart rates, strengthens our immune system, and even is noted for improving our overall productivity. Not a bad return for a smile.
So maybe Julie Andrews had it right fifty years ago when she taught the Von Trapp children to list their favorite things. Your list may not start with “rain drops on roses or whiskers on kittens” but take this challenge. Create a list of those things that even just thinking about them makes you smile. That list can include anything – a great sale at Lord & Taylors, pictures of family members, memories of the best vacation, the snooze button on the alarm, 5:00 on Friday, plans for dinner with best friends, encouraging notes from a significant other, or even the smell of fresh baked cookies or a completely clean house. Keep the list and even pictures close at hand. Start the day remembering the laughter, the success, whatever makes you smile. Face the inevitable challenges ahead with a simple prescription – smile.