Newcomer’s Page: The Resolution Solution: Smile

step 12 magazine newcomers

by Lyn P

Five years ago, two years into my sober journey, my New Year’s resolutions were as follows:

1. I resolve to smile, especially when I don’t feel like it, just to see if smiling improves my state of mind.
2. I resolve to look directly into peoples’ eyes when I smile, just to see what happens.
3. I resolve to pick up three pieces of random litter per day and toss it in the trash as an environmental gesture.

Since then, I’ve held steadfast to all three resolutions. Great things manifest the moment I plant a smile on my face, especially when I don’t feel like it. I’m instantly aware of my internal, emotional barometer and my external, physical environment. I halt and assess: Am I hungry, angry, lonely, or tired? Maybe, all four! Planting a smile on my face conjures up a mental, remedial list. When hungry, I can sit down and enjoy a piece of blackened toast, smothered in peanut butter; one of my favorite snacks. When teetering on the brink of frustration, I can go outside for a brief, scenic walk. When lonely, I can dial up Suzie and ask her how she’s faring in the colder weather. I can attend any number of meetings, virtually anywhere, on the face of this lovely planet. When I arrive, I can make the coffee and serve the fellowship. When tired, I can relish the comfort of a cozy power-nap. I can do, be, and partake in any number of things which, coincidentally, make my smile brighter.

As for Resolution Number Two, I walk taller, rising to bestow a casual greeting as I make eye-to-eye contact, bearing sincere acknowledgment to another human being. I’m keenly aware of and invigorated by a renewed sense of purpose. Say I’m walking through a parking lot headed in to the grocery store. I notice an older man wrestling with the unruly bags, trying to get them in the trunk of his car. I stop, momentarily, and help him.

Once inside the store, I notice among the distracted shoppers a bewildered, whimpering, cutie-pie toddler who’s lost his parents. He allows me to pick him up and take him to the manager who locates the child’s frantic parents. Though brief, these are basic, WOW! encounters. These resolutions were intended to fill my nearly empty, spiritual cup. I became immediately overwhelmed with joy and gratitude while noticing God’s steady stream of blessings meant just for me via the reawakening of my humble, day-to-day purpose in helping others.

Try this free and easy, mind-blowing experience: First smile, look up, then gain eye contact with someone, and see what happens. You’ll be amazed before you’re halfway through.

You’ll also be amazed at what an easy task it is to pick up three (or more) pieces of litter a day, on any given foot path. Resolution Number Three is now ingrained. I notice others seem to join in, sort of like a rippling effect, to pick up an empty soda cup, maybe a squashed, empty package of cigarettes, or the remnants of a fast food binge. Prior to that time, the rippling effect of making New Year resolutions always turned into a tidal wave of untold frustration. I kept thinking resolutions meant some form of trade off between people, places and things. Through long-suffering, I’d certainly acquire and deserve unparalleled results—to no avail. So, I stopped making ridiculous resolutions and started making realistic, personal changes toward particular goals.

Holding steady, I marginalize my New Year’s resolutions to the aforementioned three, easy, breezy, personal codes of conduct. By smiling, I garner the consistent, positive results I described without settling for self-imposed, unsatisfying half measures. Seriously, for the rest of the year, plant a smile on your wonderful face every time you think about it, no matter where you are or what you’re doing in that instance. You’ll see others respond in kind. Oh, yeah, happy New Year and Valentine’s Day. Don’t forget to smile!

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