You Make Me Smile

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“You make me smile.”  We laugh, we argue, but you make me smile. It is such an easy thing to do, and yet often so difficult to produce. You know you are in a different place in life when people are always commenting, “you are smiling now.” When did the smiling cease to exist, and is it that noticeable a return?

When you smile, your brain releases tiny molecules called neuropeptides. Neuropeptides help fight off stress. Other neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and endorphins come into play also. The endorphins act as a mild pain reliever, and the serotonin is an antidepressant. One study even suggests that smiling can help a person recover faster from stress and reduce one’s heart rate. Yet very few of us concentrate on the smile. Perhaps the action is so involuntary that it takes commentary to even notice a change.

So how does he make me smile? It is often the kindness, the ease of expression, the familiarity, the sheer good time. Allowing someone in, someone that can encourage the positive outlook, the realization that the world is actually alright -is the first step. Whether your wall is built out of guilt or perceived self -preservation, it takes so much internal focus to isolate the root cause. Letting go of the emotions that are crippling to the smile are the first steps to finding happiness. That is no easy task.
Trust is probably the number one culprit. You have been hurt. Whether is it lose, or desertion, divorce or break up, the pain is there, and it is real.  The easy answer is to go it alone. If you don’t commit, then you don’t get hurt. If you don’t commit then you never feel the low lows or high highs that come with the territory. Committing doesn’t’ have to be conventional. Rings, legal documents and ceremonies don’t define this trust.  It is a relationship that stems from care, love and selflessness.

Smiling is actually quite easy. It can be found as conversation on long rides, pillow talk in the dark with the dog at your feet, sitting on the beach as the light fades on a summer day or conversation over dinner. It is catching the way he looks at you when you are doing the crossword puzzle, or the moment his breath is taken away when you enter a room.  It is his smile behind his eyes, trying not to be too transparent. And for you, it is the chuckle at a silly joke, the acceptance of socks with driving moccasins, or messing up his hair to look cool and not like a school boy, all the while smiling in good intent.  It is the joy in the simple things like a bouquet of roses from Costco, for they are as beautiful and more well intended than a phone call to the florist.

Smiling is really an appreciation for all the good things in life. Sometimes they are so simple and unassuming that you forget it was ever an effort not to smile. When the time comes that you are now identified by that expression, you know you are on the other side.

The challenge isn’t really the smile.  It is the ability to allow someone to get close enough to feel the feelings.  It is easy to build a wall, to shut the world out. There are so many excuses to err on the side of singularity. But when you realize that you are sharing the emotions, sharing the world, don’t back away.  Be honest with yourself, allow yourself to smile. It is infectious. The benefits of that smile aren’t simply limited to you, it is contagious.



  • Susan Warner

    I am an educator, wife and mother. My journey is a perfect example of life’s contradictions. A storybook marriage of 38 years and two magnificent children, I existed in the comfort of an extraordinary cocoon of family and friends. Enter the devastating suicide of my 32-year-old son and then the subsequent death of my husband 6 months later of a virulent cancer in an eight-week diagnosis to death, my story is of acceptance, pushing on and not being defined by social emotional norms. I am living my best life, making choices that define my “right turn” after my catastrophic loss, and characterizing a journey to self-actualization and a commitment to help others who have experienced loss. Rediscovering who I am, what lies ahead and the adventure at hand.

1 Response

  1. Dale Goday says:

    Wow! Susan has nailed exactly the challenges that one faces after experiencing a horrible, painful trauma. I have suffered a similar one myself, and it has been very difficult to get through to the other side of it. I am going out to buy her book today.

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