September 21, 2015 - 4:20pm -- Anonymous

Last week many of us enjoyed a wonderful week at the fair.  After a rainy start, we were able to savor some beautiful fall weather while we talked and laughed with many friends that we don’t get to see very often.  It was also a wonderful time to observe our youth in action.  If you know the 4-H program, you know it holds a “learn by doing” motto.  The youth were in leadership roles at the livestock shows as they were helping younger members, or when they were helping one another.  I love to see the qualities that surface, when we as adults stand back and allow them to shine.  Thank you to all the 4-H youth, parents, advisors and volunteers for the many hours of investment in the future of our youth. Your efforts and kindness will continue to nurture young people for years to come. I hope you may appreciate the following on how much impact acts of kindness and a simple smile make in our lives.  According to Ron Gutman, the act of smiling has far reaching emotional value.  Every culture in the world recognizes a smile even if you can’t speak the language.  Here are some more of his findings:

  • It’s hard to frown, when someone around you is smiling.  A smile is contagious.
  • There’s some research to indicate, the larger the smile, the longer your life.
  • We are born smiling.  Images of babies in the womb show them with smiles, and we know that infants smile at the sound of familiar voices.
  • One smile releases the same endorphins (positive energy) as lots of chocolate, and saves us many calories
  • Smile is a way to reduce stress and blood pressure, and  laughter really is good medicine
  • When you smile others see you as more positive, when you look happy, others want to mimic you
  • Children smile up to 400 times a day, most of us smile at least 20 times and there is a few that only smile 5 times a day.  The more we smile the more joy and satisfaction we receive from our lives. Being around happy children really is a way to boost your spirits.
  • He summarizes with the suggestion that we all smile for a healthier, happier life. 

This also relates to the Mood Elevator scale that I have posted above my desk.  It starts with Gratefulness at the top followed by these descriptors in descending order: wise, insightful, creative, innovative, resourceful, hopeful, optimistic, appreciative, compassionate, patient, understanding, sense of humor, flexible, adaptive and cooperative.  In the middle of the scale we find: curious, interested, impatient, frustrated, irritated and bothered.  And continuing on down the scale we find: worried, anxious, defensive, insecure, judgmental, blaming, self-righteous, stressed, burned-out, and we finish with angry, hostile and depressed.  If you want to see the scale, check out this link http://upthemoodelevator.com/.  The theory is that when we have a positive outlook, our attitude is on the top half of the scale but when we are negative our reaction becomes more like the descriptors on the bottom half.  Being positive can take us a long way in being successful in life.

In closing, we all have changes and challenges in life.  It is up to each of us how we approach our life journey, with a smile or with a frown.  Some events will be easy, others more stretching but ultimately our vision will help determine our outcome or in the words of Mother Teresa “I will never understand the power of a simple smile”.

Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family and Consumer Sciences educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722