Why Not Smile?

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Lined up, engines running, we sat in our cars at the intersection waiting for the traffic light to change. To my left, a middle-aged male driver stared ahead with a dead pan face. On my right, the female driver scowled reminiscent of my cat. 

What do people see when they look at me? Does my face appear frazzled or irritated because I’m running late today?  

I studied my tired face in the rear-view mirror and intentionally SMILED!

Like magic, my reflection became prettier and younger looking.

When the traffic light turned green, the other drivers sped ahead, but I got a wild hair and challenged myself to…

SMILE, all the way to my destination.

Can I smile for twenty-minutes with no other reason than to look happy?

Here’s what I discovered.

It takes fewer facial muscles to smile than to frown, but after five minutes, my cheek muscles ached. Maybe I should exercise those babies more often.

I glanced in the mirror at the fake smile pasted on my face. How do those beauty pageant contestants smile throughout a contest even when they lose?

 To keep smiling, and look genuine, I had to think happy thoughts. “What a lovely day. The sun is breaking through the rain clouds; the field grass is turning green.”

Sure enough, my smile grew bigger, brighter.

If  I allowed somber thoughts to slip into my mind, my lips instinctively sagged. So I HAD to control my thoughts.

Whenever a car passed me in the left lane, I’d turn my head and flash my pearly whites hoping someone would return the smile. But people didn’t look my way … which my husband would say is a good thing … because that meant THEY were concentrating on the road.

My concentrated effort to smile paid off.

I showed up to my destination ten minutes late. But, instead of resembling Dwarf Grumpy and making excuses when I walked into the room, I smiled and greeted everyone as though I’d won the lottery.

So why am I surprised?

God knows my thoughts affect my moods, perspective, my words and actions.

The Bible says “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

Don’t wait for the feelings to come. Think about such things.

And when necessary, choose an action that will lift thoughts heavenward.

IMG_2642An action as simple as a SMILE can make all the difference even in this…..

Author: Karen Foster

I'd like to say I've changed, but after decades of living, I still have the same four passions. My relationship with Jesus, spending time with family, attending live theater, and writing devotions & first-person stories about a loving, faithful God who reveals Himself in our every day circumstances.

9 thoughts on “Why Not Smile?”

    1. Mary, funny that you should say so. You smile more than most people I know. A smile has a medicinal effect on others. And it doesn’t happen naturally. We have to think good/happy thoughts. So keep smiling!


  1. SMILING as I think of our great God using you to bless so many people! Thanks for your obedience to Him as you faithfully serve 🙂


  2. I thought you were going to rev your engine and race those other drivers! I’m glad you just challenged yourself to smile. 🙂 Our thoughts affect our moods – so true. I’m trying to be conscious of my self-talk as I work on my to-do list. Noticing that I regularly beat myself up over being inept! Trying to change that. Maybe I’ll use Philippians 4:8 for that purpose today!

    P.S. I love your cat.


    1. I hardly think of you as inept, but you’re right, we have to be conscious of what we’re thinking. Too easy to slip down the slippery slope of critical thinking. As for my cat, you can have her…now she defines the meaning of a broken record when she wants something.


      1. That’s so funny – my cat is the same way. I don’t know how many times a day I get up to let him in and out. Not to mention the times he jumps up on my desk wants me to pet him even if I’m trying to type or sit on my lap even if I have something there already. Acchh!! Positive thoughts! Positive thoughts! Nice kitty!


      2. It gives me a funny joy to see you, Barb, and you, Karen, visiting with one another! LOL! Barb, Karen and I have known each other in person for years! Karen…what is it…about 20? Karen, Barb is my accountability/prayer partner and confidant….even though we haven’t met in person. I love that you girls are connected. 🙂 (Is that silly?)


        1. Heidi, I had no idea you two were so close! Small world, smaller still when it comes to the fellowship of saints. 🙂 I’d love for the three of us to meet in person some day. Maybe there’s MORE to this equation than meets the eye.


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