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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pay It Forward with a Smile

It’s December and a wonderful time of year to pause for a moment to reflect on life’s blessings, and think about what gift we might give to loved ones and those around us.

Recently my wife, Kate, reminded me of the time Mother Teresa was asked, “What can people do to make a difference in the world?” Mother Teresa responded, “Smile at one another!”

The notion of a smile takes me back to the 1970’s when Kate wanted me to meet her great uncle who lived in County Kerry, Ireland. So off we go for my first visit to that blessed land to spend some time with Uncle John.

After a few days with John, we found ourselves in a pub and after a pint of Guinness, John looks at me and asks, “So what do you think of the Irish?” My immediate response was, “They are all smiling.” To which he said, “Ah, a smile. It’s a beacon to strangers, a resource unbound. It can neither be begged, borrowed, bought nor stolen. It’s only of value when given freely, and those who have none to give need one most of all. So remember that you can brighten another’s path with your SMILE.”

While a smile might not fix all the challenges we face today, it does make the moment brighter and offer a balm to a darker moment. But what if we all brought our game and our SMILE to those around us? It just might make the difference Mother Teresa had such belief in.

I always recall my grandfather’s confidence in the generosity of simple yet authentic acts. I once asked him, “What is the meaning of life?” (I was five) and he responded, “There is no meaning unless we bring the meaning to it by what we do.” He further explained that the loudest statement any of us can make about the world we envision is what we do in our own lives.

So for all of us, and for all the challenges that face us, let’s keep it simple this holiday season. In the spirit of generosity and “paying it forward”, let us all start something thoughtful and “SMILE at one another”.

Happy Holidays,


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