Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Advent Smile Project

During the dark winter months when we spend so much more time inside it can be easy to fall into a pattern of grumpiness.  Longer lines in stores, crowded parking lots, and heightened expectations can leave us irritated and exhausted.  Our to-do lists grow longer and our time gets taken up by many festive obligations.  Sometimes the swirl of coming, and going, and doing, overwhelms our ability to just be, in the moment.

The season of Advent is one of watching and waiting.  As Catholics our family and many others light the candles in our Advent wreaths as a reminder to be in the moment and prepare our hearts for what is to come.  The candles are a warm light in the dark of winter and a sign of hope. Beginning today, I propose we all go out and become living Advent candles.  

The Advent Smile Project is simple: Find at least one person every day, make eye contact, and offer them a genuine warm smile.  If you are uncomfortable making eye contact with a stranger start by simply reminding yourself to smile throughout the day.  If the situation calls for it, follow your smile with a cheerful greeting and see where it takes you.  

"Bonus points" for smiling at other drivers in a crowded parking lot.  Additional "bonus points" for making eye contact with a retail employee and offering them a sincere "thank you."  (Triple "bonus points" for doing all of this with no electronic gadget in your hand.)  

Everyday that you participate pop over to the Facebook page and post the word smile on the wall.  If you have any fun stories to share about your experience please also post them on the wall.

Smiles can be magical, contagious, and instantly therapeutic.  A smile can change the course of a stressful interaction or just lift a persons spirits when they are low.  It is a simple pure gift we can give each other and we get to experience all the benefits at the same time.

I hope by being more watchful and aware of who might need a smile I will be more present in each moment.  The month of December isn't something for us to get through in order to celebrate Christmas or the New Year.  The holiday season is about the journey, just like all other parts of our life.  Let's light up December with smiles!

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