One of the benefits of having a mischievous streak in me as a little boy was that I spent a lot of time in ‘time out’ in my mom’s walk-in closet. It would have been much better for me as I grew up if she had believed in spanking. As a result, I was one wild child in the years prior to me being rescued by God from the mouth of the grave.
Back to my mom’s closet…. I found all sorts of interesting things in there, and many things that I don’t think that I was supposed to find, but then, that is for another story and another time. One of the things that I found was a poem on the wall. It was in fact the first poem that I ever memorized. The second one was something about a chestnut tree and a village blacksmith. The poem in my mom’s closet that I first memorized went like this.
A smile is something nice to see, it doesn’t cost a cent.
A smile is something all your own, it never can be lent.
A smile is welcome everywhere, it does away with frowns.
And a smile is good for everyone, to help them when they’re down.
Looking back, I think that if not for that poem I would have gotten in a lot less trouble. I think that maybe I was not supposed to smile at my mom when she was yelling at me. It didn’t seem to help the situation much anyway. The good news is that I learned three very important lessons while in my mom’s closet over the years.
1) I found that smiling like the cat that ate the canary gave me a more positive outlook on life,
2) Smiling caused me to look forward and not backwards, which really helped me in getting beyond all the ‘bad’ things in my life that were going on as I was growing up, and
3) The greatest lesson that came from my learning to smile in life was that it really did make others feel better. It opened up opportunities for me to meet people and to do things that people who frown and go about their lives with a grumpy self-consumed mentality could not and will not ever be able to do.
Sincere smiles are one of the most powerful public relations tools you will ever have at your disposal. Try it.
As for me and the closet, I eventually got smart and started stashing cookies in there, so really, as a little boy in trouble with his mom, it was not all that bad. I even figured out how to climb up into the attic and come out into the garage to get milk in our spare refrigerator, and make it back to the closet without ever getting caught.
A lesson to be learned for any young kid that happens to be reading this – with your parents’ permission of course – is this. The moral of this story is that smiling can be a double edged sword. Learn when to use it, especially around your parents when you are getting yelled at or disciplined. They may take your extra-rosy disposition and big smile to mean something entirely different. Aside from that, I encourage you to smile often and at those who deserve it least, because it can have a positive effect on those around you.