Jar Full of Smiles

A thoughtful friend gave me a gift for Christmas that really resonated with me. A jar full of bright strips of paper with sentiments written on them. What a great way to give someone a gift that keeps giving. The idea being that you pull out one slip a day, read it, and have a reason to smile. But it made me think about all the negativity that has been pervading society of late and how much that hurts all of us … then it flashed in my head the best way to combat the negativity is to spread a little positivity. Does that mean everything is glorious and roses are blooming everywhere? No. There are negative things happening in the world and we need to figure out what we can do to reduce things like senseless violence and hatred — specific concrete actions we can do to change our world for the better. But we also don’t need to dwell only on gloom and doom, but can and should share good things as well.

I post about the issues encountered by my characters in my books. Things like grief, homelessness, abuse, underage drinking, bullying, etc. and I realized that in life, while I always look for the positive, I haven’t been sharing that side with my readers. It’s time I started. So, I’m going to share my Jar of Smiles with you. 😀 The first note drawn from the jar is:

A friend is someone who can see the truth and pain in you even when you are fooling everyone else.

How true. My thoughts immediately went to my bestie who sees the truth and pain in me even when I cannot see it myself. When I am so focused on convincing myself that everything is okay, she just KNOWS when things are not right with me. Which is good because I have the type of personality that just keeps pushing forward on the premise that if I’m not dead, I must be doing ALL the things. She keeps me balanced, tells me when I need to rest, and knows immediately when something is bothering me. We all need a friend like her.

The part that struck me even more was the part about even when you are fooling everyone else. The presumption is that we put on our happy mask to face the world, not allowing anyone to see our pain. We hide our vulnerability from the world because far too often, instead of seeing the vulnerability and helping to repair the damage, society sees a reason to feast on the pain of others. When you’re feeling pain, the last thing you want is to invite someone to rub salt in the wound, so we mask it and pretend everything is okay. When it isn’t.

What a condemnation of our culture. Because mocking someone’s vulnerabilities, or actively seeking to cause them more pain is something we learn. Does it make us feel better about our own lives? I doubt it, but again, it is about the mask the person inflicting the pain puts on for the outside world. I think about how a small child would react vs. adults in a situation, and I would rather react with the sympathy and heart of a child, unfettered by having been taught to condemn. Imagine the difference if we were to all choose to do the same?

Back to the green strip of paper … I have been so blessed by the people in my life. Those who are there for me, no matter what I’m going through. Those who take the time to see what I sometimes cannot see myself. Those who make sure I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I am not going through life alone. And yes, just thinking about that makes me smile.

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