free the pen, a blog for writers

September 6, 2011

Got a Second for a Smile?

Filed under: writing techniques — freethepen @ 2:40 pm

Maybe you don’t think you have a second because your job, family, friends, facebook, twitter and daily needs to eat and sleep take your entire day. I agree that there are activities we must do. Yet, there are also activities we choose to do like facebook, twitter, texting and the like. How we construct our days can become more of a choice than we sometimes want to realize. For instance, as a single woman I have to do everything from washing the car, to balancing the checkbook to taking out the garbage or doing laundry. I know that managing a life with or without help can be burdensome. That being said, it is important to remember that giving a simple smile, despite all the busyness, can make a world of difference.

Maybe you heard this story. A man walking down the street took a second to smile at a teenager. The next day the teenager ran across that man’s path and confronted him. “Remember when you smiled at me yesterday?” he asked the man. The man barely remembered. “I was thinking of killing myself,” the teen said. “But somehow when you smiled at me I felt a little better and then decided not to kill myself.” The man looked stunned; he barely remembered the teen let alone smiling at him. “Thank you,” the teen said and walked away.

We never know what is happening on the inside of people. One day when I owned a clothing store a male customer came in with his wife. I greeted them and the wife barely acknowledged me, although she was polite, and her husband seemed to have an attitude that had the potential to ruin my day. When the couple approached me for a small sale I asked what brought them to town. It was a tourist town and my shop was right in the middle of the hotel area. I smiled and made eye contact with the couple thinking they probably didn’t want to engage in any conversation with me. Then the man spoke. “We came here to bury my son,” he said, “he just committed suicide.” They stood in my shop for almost 30 minutes talking about what they were going through; they then asked me why I sold organic clothing. I sometimes wonder what would have happened had I not smiled or looked then in the eye. I wonder if I had just taken their money without acknowledgment of them, if they would have opened up to me. Another reminder not to judge people without information beyond what we see; we never know the road they are traveling on. I don’t know what my attitude would have been if I had been in the same position as that father; maybe it would have been more cranky. This link will take you to a page where you can purchase smile cards. Why smile cards? Why not! Hand them out. You never know who might need a smile. You never know whose life you might change or whose path you might lighten. And if you don’t think it will do anything for you in return, think of this: a smile uses every muscle in your face so you will get exercise in important places. Remember: a smile lightens the heart, yours and the person you are giving it to.

For all you writers reading this who would like to do something in addition to a simple smile, write a positive sentence, print it out on business cards and leave them wherever you go. When you go to lunch leave one on the table for the waiter. When you pass cars, slip them under windshield wipers. When you take a walk, drop them on someone’s doorstep. Who says writing has to be long and difficult. Write one sentence, pass it around. Write one word, pass it around. Write to heal. It works. Write to heal for youself. Write to heal for others. Speechless? Smile.

Until next time, keep the pen moving,




  1. What a great post. If someone saw my long face today and asked the reason why, I’d tell them it’s because I just turned another decade older. Where’s the wrinkle cream department? *searching frantically

    Comment by Deborah Owen — September 6, 2011 @ 5:00 pm | Reply

    • Happy birthday. Hope this day is filled with hugs, whispered kindnesses, giggles, chocolate and flowers.

      Comment by freethepen — September 6, 2011 @ 8:03 pm | Reply

  2. Well, I got the hugs and whispered kindnesses, breakfast in bed and a new Yamaha keyboard. The giggles, chocolates and flowers will have to come later. lol Thank you!

    Comment by Deborah Owen — September 7, 2011 @ 4:00 am | Reply

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