"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health." Proverbs 15:30

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but depression drains one's strength.” Proverbs 17:22

“A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit. A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash. For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:13-15

“Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad. Psalm 126:2-3

I learned an important lesson recently and I thought I'd share it with you. I don't smile enough. And the sad thing is, it's true. I've been told that I'm “too serious”, that I need to “lighten up”, or the worst one of all, that I look “unfriendly”. That last one makes me feel bad. I mean, I think that I'm friendly, I like my friends and I'd like to have more of them. I certainly don't want people to think that I'm “unfriendly”, especially at my business. See, when I'm not writing columns or novels or workbooks, I run a small valet service parking cars. But we don't just park cars. We're more of a “we'll do anything that you want/need us to do as long as it's not illegal, immoral or stupid” service. As you might imagine, this is a service where a smile can go a long way. And, to make matters worse (does that seem negative) we do it at our community hospital.

Talk about pressure!

One of the first things that I had to learn (and this would, totally, be a no brainer to almost anyone else) was that most of the people who come to the hospital … DON'T WANT TO BE THERE! They're there because they're sick or hurt or someone that they care about is sick or hurt (or worse) and they probably have jobs that have been interrupted so they can either be there for a time or help someone else out by bringing patients what they need from home or by ferrying someone back and forth because they can't drive themselves. I mean, it can be a very stressful environment. Yes, we do have the occasional baby pop out and those people are happy bordering on giddiness, but by-and-large, when people come to the hospital, they're in a situation that they'd rather not be in. And, I'm not even going to get into the staff, God bless their servant hearts! Just imagine the strain that they're under day-in and day-out.

I have a Pastor friend whom I think very highly of who has told me (on several occasions … probably hoping I'd take the hint) that when he smiles at people … hold on to something guys … they smile back! Especially women! Who knew? And, you know what? It's true! If you smile at them, they will smile back!

According to an article I read (right before I started writing this) there are six benefits to smiling”
-It lowers blood pressure
-It puts you in a better mood, especially on bad days
-It relieves stress
-It strengthens your immune system
-It lessens pain
-It is contagious

There it is! Number 6. It's contagious! When you smile, not only does it make you feel better, but it makes other people feel better too! How cool is that? All you have to do to brighten someone's day is … smile.

Yes, the hospital where I have my business can be a stressful place, but it's far from unique. I've worked in customer service all my life. I've had bosses and co-workers and guests and clients and family and friends and associates, and did you know that every single one of them were people? That's right! They're all people … with emotions and families and bills and health issues and jobs of their own that are stressful. The thing that we must take in to account is that we don't know about any of that. We don't know what the person … in the 15 ITEMS OR LESS check-out line at the grocery store who doesn't start to write their check until everything they are buying has been bagged up … is going through. Maybe they are both, in a hurry and forgetful because their sisters husband just passed unexpectedly and they wanted to make a dish for her so she doesn't have to cook for a few days while funeral arrangements are being made. Maybe they just lost their job and wanted to stock up on what little they could afford. Maybe they just found out that they have a terminal illness and they just wanted some comfort food that mom isn't around to make them anymore.

And, what about cops and firefighters? I'd imagine that they meet more people on a daily basis that don't want to meet them than do. Especially cops! Just look what's happening in our country today! There are lunatics out there who have no respect for authority what-so-ever and (in some extreme cases) are even actively planning to hurt or even kill them. Maybe next time you get pulled over for speeding (you know … when you're speeding) you could show them the respect that they deserve for doing a job that you're not willing to do, for probably less money than you make.

The scenarios are endless, but the point is simple. The only thing that you can control in life is your attitude. And you have a responsibility to share Jesus Christ with as many people as you can while you're here. The Bible, as noted in the scriptures at the beginning of this article, has some pretty simple ways that you can accomplish this.

What would Jesus do?

I think he'd smile.

G. J. Fortier is a member of Ironmen Ministries and First Baptist Church, Centerville, GA. Look for his novels on Amazon on Kindle and paperback. Or visit his website at www.GerardFortier.com