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This month’s challenge is more invisible than tangible, cerebral than physical, and more philosophical than manual. Hopefully, the results will be obvious and undeniable. Also, if you are not yet seeing the benefits of the prior monthly challenges in this column, please do not give up. The fruits of all labor must be cultivated and, much like Louisiana Creole Tomatoes or Florida Oranges, require diligent attention and, most importantly, patience.
Initially, I had planned to draft this article and take a cynical, vengeful expedition that would lead to a place of selfish but short lived satisfaction at the expense of a few individuals that use internet forums to assuage some personal deficiencies. However, in the process of drafting this month’s article, and before the submission deadline, I was lucky enough to receive an email that positively detoured me and lead me to take a more uplifting journey and rethink this month’s challenge and article.
In that email, a respected colleague had forwarded an amazing and envious client appraisal and review of a recent event, held at a very prestigious venue. The fact that this professional received such accolades was not a surprise; anything to the contrary would be more shocking. The unusual part was that the performance yielded an unsolicited but equally glowing review from the venue manager, a professional who routinely experiences superb, unmatched performances, probably every 5 to 10 minutes. I deduced that my colleague must have been hitting on all cylinders.
But as I listened to the words of both the client and the manager, I noticed that the praise was not referencing his other worldly beat-mixing abilities, nor some highly developed scratching skillz or expensive, high end gear. Their words seemed to refer mainly to him as an individual who simply was prepared with a capacity to be unwaveringly positive. I have no doubt he is a devotee of the philosophy inherent in Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s famous words, “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” I’ve never seen a picture of this man without a smile, nor can I remember not smiling back. He gets it.
That email helped me to realized that I was so mired in negativity that I was preparing to waste this month’s opportunity to share with the readers a beneficial and positive lesson and behavioral adjustment. Forgive me if I again seem headed toward Cornyville. I frequently do that but it has never really resulted in a beneficial move to a better place.
Regardless, after several rereads and acknowledgements, I sent my friend a note of congrats. I resolved to begin a program of “Smile at all costs”, avoid all avoidable negativity and the unnecessary judgments of those I don’t admire nor aspire to emulate, and to quantify the results. So I find myself, having to scrap a juicy, snap filled, much-ado-about-nothing article. Wow, it is working already.
With that in mind and the desire to better utilize the limited time allotted in any given period, I hereby resolve and invite you to join me, in a program of effective time allocation, with primary attention to activity that will result in more smiles per gallon!
This exercise will require active attention as many time wasting, frown inducing habits are routine and second nature, and to that I can certainly attest.
Staring immediately, begin making note of each circumstance that feels less inherently negative. If you have an I-device or phone that can record, use it to make voice notes when you find your self doing something voluntarily or unnecessarily that induces a smile-less mug. Later, during a moment of clarity, review those circumstances and actively avoid them.
If talking about certain topics, in social settings, induces an uncomfortable tightness, find another conversation. When regularly visiting specific areas of the internet typically result in having to deal with annoying but constant misunderstandings, don’t sign in. As you read this, I’m particularly embracing that one. Simply put, if X doesn’t make you smile, try Y.
For example, I fussed and grimaced whenever I approached a particular intersection during my daily commute. My predictable demeanor shift was in direct reaction to the endless number of self important morons that refuse to adhere to the established and visible road markings and ordinances. They purposefully sped pass other commuters, myself included, that were properly waiting in the legal turn lane to access a busy ramp. These selfish vermin, routinely, forcibly, rudely and dangerously cut in front of everyone.
Now I realize that people run late, typically due to their own irresponsible behavior and bad habits, and may suffer consequences, rightfully and properly so, for tardiness but G.D. I wanted to annihilate every single one of them each time I was made to witness their carelessness and made to wait through additional signal changes, spending additional time to proceed legally. I could not ignore the obnoxiousness of their illegal actions and it caused regular aggravation, but only for me, the arrogant lawbreakers could have cared less.
I continued to foam at the mouth daily until I mentioned this to a friend. With a smile and a knowing ocular glint, he suggested that I simply try a slightly different route and possibly avoid the annoying idiots. He was right. I made a minor alteration in my course and, viola, the annoyance was no more, it ceased to be, it was an ex-annoyance. (Apologies to M. Python).
While festering in disdain, I was not in the right frame to see the simple, positive solution to a insignificant problem. Mind you, if I ever get military clearance and a bumper mounted grenade launcher, I plan to revisit that intersection and introduce those idiots to “my little friend.” (Apologies to Scarface) But I digress.
When I find myself saddled with a frown, I pledge to either stand on my head or adjust my attitude to allow a smile to surface. I want to be the subject of reviews and appraisals like those which my ever smiling friend was the recipient and subject of…and probably due in no small part to his constant, infectious smile, which I suspect is a result of his propensity to swim, mainly, in happier waters.

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