Friday, February 28, 2014

Smile, Though Your Heart is Aching…

You know how it feels to have heartache. To be sad or grumpy. To be frustrated or irritated or blah. We can’t be happy all the time. And when we’re not happy, being around other people can feel anything from mildly annoying to flat out aggravating. If your heart hurts or your ire is up or you’re under pressure, you might want to just fold into yourself and become invisible, or you may feel like snapping at the people around you, or you might just feel generally impatient with the world. Let’s face it, sometimes when you’re pissy or hurting, you just want to smack people who are simply in your presence much less present and happy simultaneously.

When that moment happens, learn from the TSA:  make someone smile.

Yes, you read that right. Learn from the TSA.

And yes, I mean that TSA. The airport security people who check your stuff and your body for weapons and other nefarious doodads, such as super-scary containers of liquid that are larger than 3 ounces.

I want a shoulder tag for my shirts that reads "MOM"... image credit to
Today, as I headed home from my monthly work trip, I watched the TSA agents in amazement. When I passed by the first agent, he gave me a winning smile, a smile he’d been sharing with every single traveler, and said, “Hello there, beautiful!” The next agent – the man checking IDs – kindly teased me about my ID photo. Then another agent walked by, smiled broadly and yelled, “Hey there, youngster!”

This was my experience, and I could see that these fantastic men and women (I'm looking at you, Love Field TSA team) were treating every passenger with this same kind, fun, funny attentiveness. And thanks to them, a large number of the weary, tense, exhausted travelers passing through the security lines ended up smiling and laughing by the time they reached the other side of the security gauntlet.

You see, sometimes making someone else smile is the best salve for a tense soul or hurting heart. Sometimes when frustration or sadness feels like it’s about to overwhelm you, the simple act of giving someone else even a little joy can be amazingly rewarding.

These TSA agents today had no way of knowing their actual impact on any of us, either. For some of us, they might have simply added a glimmer of happiness to an okay afternoon. For others of us, they may have lifted hurting spirits and reminded us to look for good even in the roughest day. And for others of us yet, they perhaps reminded us to pass along smiles to others in our path.

I have several friends right now who are going through rough moments. Some are dealing with significant work struggles that are causing them to ponder what they should do next. Others are managing through illnesses and child rearing challenges. And at least a handful are trying to start the painful process of mending their broken hearts. To each of these friends, I wish them smiles and hope. If I don’t have the opportunity, I hope someone makes them laugh or feel special today. I hope someone today is their personal TSA agent (how often do you hear that said?).

More than that, I hope that each one of these friends of mine brings a smile to someone else today. Because if they do, they will be repaid tenfold with happiness. Or chocolate. But more likely happiness. And with happiness comes healing.  So... smile.  

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