By Rivka Perlman

February 16, 2012

Video:Be a Smiler!


I  can just see him, there by the door; his wife standing next to him as he waved good-bye to me. I was about to get married and this Rabbi said to me,”My wife is a Smiler. Be a Smiler.”

I was young, so I smiled,and thought “Duh.Smiling? I got that one already!

It’s simple, right? Be a smiler. Bring the attitude. Be the light. Be the one who says. “That’s okay and look how great it is anyway.”

The Mama is the engine of the home. (The kitchen is the engine too – but that’s for a different post.) Just as a woman has the power to birth life, she has the power to birth life into any situation.

Rav Wolbe says the greatest thing. He writes that smiling at someone is called “Hazrachas hashemesh.”Literally, “Sunshine.” Just as plants need sunlight to grow, people need smiles to grow. For real! When someone smiles at us, it gives us energy. Smiling to ourselves gives us energy! And sista – you look so much prettier when you smile!

My kids tell me that when I don’t smile I look mad. I tried it a couple times in the mirror. I relax my shoulders and look dead on in the mirror. Let me tell you – its not too pretty. Sometimes, I’m mid-interaction with a kid and I’m low on energy so I’m just responding in half sentences. Or I’m asking them to bring up their laundry for the 3rd time – and I feel my face. And I remember. So I flash a smile. Having nothing to do with what I’m feeling – just because they deserve a little sunshine.

Amazing how I feel the tension dissipate.

But its not just for kids. It’s for everyone. Smile at people for no reason other then to pour some sunshine on their day.

Ok. Secret Confessions. I have a pet peeve.  It’s when I’m at Dunkin Donuts ( its kosher here) and I hear someone say  “I ‘ll have two donuts and a coffee.”

Ugh!! How about, “(smile)  Please can I have two donuts and a coffee.”

I’m not even talking about asking “how does it feel to stay up all night, making donuts and then serving them to people who are grumpy after they had a whole night’s sleep and you’re going home to catch a nap so you can get to your second job.”

Just a smile.

But that’s getting off on a tangent. So, how ’bout sending a little sunshine across the counter?

The elderly. I’m in awe of them. They look so frail – but they’re acually so strong. They’ve raised kids, seen death, seen wars, struggled, triumphed, hoped, wished, cried and arrived. Small on the outside, big on the inside. And the best part is how an eldery person responds to a smile. They’re in the time of their lives when they ask for so little and recieve so graciously. Smile at the next one you see. Try it! Try it today.

But above all, “Be a Smiler.” is not really about other people. Its about you. Smiling is a choice. One that comes more naturally to some people then others. If you’re not the smiley type – so what, not to worry. You can still make the choice. It’s a choice to do life happy. Happy I’m alive. Happy with what comes my way.

Happy, that even though I didn’t want the ticket – I have a car. Happy that even though my Ipod got stolen from my pocket two weeks after I got it – I have a coat pocket! (true story.)

Happy that I’m sick?- That’s rough. But there are many things you can choose to be happy about even then.

My neighbor got his leg amputated a little while ago. I called him the week after operation. “How are you?”

(laughing) “Fantastic!”

He lives all alone in a second floor apartment  and can barely do the steps. He can’t drive and his kids almost never come to see him.  I used to visit him all the time. Bu tI haven’t gone over in ages.

Last week I took my 4 year old over to see him.  As he shuffled over to open the door.I braced myself. What would he say? It was so unexcusable that I neglected to see him for so long.

He opened the door and you know what he said? “Oh, how wonderful to see you! I’ve aged so much since the last time. I’m now a hundred and eight!” And he laughed. That man  is making a choice about how he wants to be in life!

Sometimes gratefullness is a pain. It’s the secret to happiness but its also hard work to muster. So here’s what I do when its really tough. I stop using my head and start using my mouth. “Say cheese” and I smile.

And it gets funny. Honestly. All the things I can’t stand in life are basically me saying ” (insert temper tantrum image) “Hey G-d, I wanted  it this way.” And I know He’s a Smiler, because He’s everything. So I feel  Him chuckling and saying “Hold your horses, I have a much better plan for you!”

A month and a half into this website and I’m already starting to give out homework!

As you go into your Shabbos preperations and head into the weekend try this: Smile once at a loved one for no special reason. Smile once to yourself for no special reason. Really stretch those lips! And smile once – even laugh when things don’t go as planned!

Let me know how it goes Sunshine! 




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