Every day in life, we question a lot of things. Why do we have to do this? What good will come of this? What am I gaining as a result of this? How is that fun? Blah, blah, and more blah. When I began the smile project, I did not have much faith. What was I hoping to gain? I was not sure. But I had the idea in my mind for a while and I had been delaying it as much as possible. But then one day I decided to just stop questioning and analyzing everything and just give it a try. I wanted to see how it would change my life (if at all). What was there to lose anyway?
Anyway, today I want to share with you how the smile project has helped me in my life and what it has made me realize over the past month.
1) The real picture is bigger than what my mind sees:
We can be entrapped in our own minds every day and only see what the mind shows us. And in this black box created by our mind, sometimes we can forget how lucky we really are. I have realized the things I had forgotten over time. Travelling way back into the past has helped me realize how lucky I am to be where I am right now. I grew up in India. I remember when we were little, there was no regular supply of hot water like we have here in Canada. There wasn’t even regular supply of regular water lol. My parents would wake up early to heat the water on the stove and mix it with cold water so we could shower. They would also fill up jugs and tubs of water to consume or use for the rest of the day. There was a water heater for showering purpose but sometimes there would be no water supply or the heated water would all be used up by the time we need to use it lol. There was an AC and a heater but sometimes there would be no electricity so we would fan ourselves in the summer or gather around a clay oven filled with coal to feel warm in the winter. There was a washer and dryer but sometimes you would have to wash all the clothes by hand and hang them on clothesline to dry. This was the life and is the life for many people even today. Today, I have 24/7 supply of hot and cold water, heat and electricity. Visiting these moments of life has made me realize something very important: we had it good then, we have it better today and we will have it even better tomorrow.
2) I should not let my mind control my life:
Again, your mind will tell you a lot of things everyday but it is up to you to believe them or not. There was a time when I would watch shows endlessly. Like 8 hours or more straight. At the end of each episode, my mind would say, “I want to know what happens next” and I would keep going. Over the years, I have gradually reduced the number of hours I watch anything for but I have been able to take a very shocking action recently. I have been able to close a show/movie in the middle of watching it. My mind still says, “I want to know what happens next” but I tell it, “I know, but we can catch up later.” That kind of conversation with the mind in any situation really helps me take control. I won’t say I have been able to do that for every situation but that’s a first step and as you may have heard, “a journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.” To know that you can dim down the curiosity in your mind and make a choice different from what your mind tells you is an amazing realization.
3) Learning to think positively is just about training your mind:
When something happens in life, our mind immediately comes up with a thought. We don’t have control over what kind of thought comes to our mind first and it is mostly affected by what kind of experiences we have been through in life, but we do have control over what we choose to believe. This realization that I can choose my thoughts has helped me immensely in accepting my own thoughts (whether negative or positive) and in changing them around if they don’t make me feel good. And I would like to believe that if you do this thought-switching for long enough, eventually your mind will catch up and your immediate thoughts will change to the ones that make you feel awesome :).
There are things in life that immediately make me feel sad but recently I have been trying to think more of the awesome memories created together rather than the aftermath. What’s gone is gone anyway so why let that drag down your entire life? Knowing that awesome memories exist and letting them lift me up feels so much more amazing than being sad. Positivity is good; I could eat it like a cake without any care for the icing all over my face. Yum! lol
4) Patience is the key to everything in life:
This is my most important virtue in life. It is something that I have been working on for years. To not be annoyed by how much work I have to do to get something done is an amazing accomplishment. I usually cannot handle things that require a long time to complete because well, it’s requires a lot of effort and patience grrr lol. Over the holidays, there was a lot to do as well. In order to prepare food for one evening, we had already spent 1.5 days and I was really tired. I saw the kitchen still had to be cleaned and a quick view of it overwhelmed me. “How am I ever gonna get this place cleaned up?” Then, I got up up and started cleaning. How was I gonna know the answer if I didn’t start? It took me more than an hour to clean but at least the view was no longer overwhelming. So if you have patience to go through each task in your day, at least the end result will be satisfying; otherwise, you’ll be sitting there all day saying the same thing lol. This ability to shut myself up and start doing what needed to be done really made me feel like everything eventually could become better if I go through it with patience in my heart.
5) Smile anyway and spread your smiles:
This year, I took the time to create a New Year e-card and send it to all the people I have ever met. Just because I wanted to wish the world a Happy New Year. Very few people replied back but it did not matter. What I wanted to do was spread the joy and by simply creating that card and hitting send, I had already accomplished that. A smile from my heart to theirs had been sent and received. No validation required. 🙂
To finally want to do little things like this without expecting anything in return has been challenging but very fulfilling. To remind others that although we may not have talked for years and probably won’t in the future either, they are part of my life and will remain there regardless of what happens in life.
6) Don’t let external factors control how I feel inside:
This lesson has been an amazing discovery for me. Two years ago when I was having difficulty in my job search after graduation, I lost all confidence in my abilities and thought that maybe this was happening because I was useless. When I entered the blogging world and saw that sometimes my posts go unnoticed, I thought that may be my posts were not worth reading. I no longer feel that way anymore for at least 95% of the time. I know how capable I am and do not need others to validate it to believe it. I know that the value of my skills in my heart will remain the same regardless of whether I am jobless or loaded with million job offers lol. I also know that the value of my words in my heart will remain the same even if no one reads them or if a thousand people do. When what comes from the heart does not change while external factors do, there is absolutely nothing in this world that can shake us. It’s only when our heart is shaking that we feel that everything else is too.
7) Everyone in life goes through their own struggles:
The most important realization in my life has been that everyone goes through their own struggles. Just because someone has not talked to you for days, months or even years, does not mean they no longer think of you as part of their life. It means that before they feel like connecting with others, they have to go through their own struggles everyday. They may have the time to talk to others or they may not. It does not really matter. The important thing is to not take someone’s silence as rejection and to understand that they might be going through their own struggles. No one knows what goes on in a person’s heart every day; in those times, only our understanding can help them.
8) Everything eventually will be alright:
The most important thing I have learned through the smile project is that no matter what happens in life, everything eventually will turn out ok because while I cannot control what happens, I can control what kind of effect it has on me. A few weeks ago, I decided to go a social event, so I took the bus and wandered around in a huge parking lot in the cold for 15 mins to find everyone but I could not. Then I called the event coordinator through a pay phone and it went to voice mail. I lost all hope of finding them and as soon as I put down the phone, I saw my return bus approaching. I took the bus and went home. Later, I found out that event coordinator went to look for me after listening to the voicemail when I was running to catch the bus back home lol. Anyway, so I missed it. Everyone I told this story to with laughter said that that sucks and it was the worst thing that could happen. My reaction: “It’s ok. It’s all good. It happens.” The old me would have decided to never try to go to any event again. It’s all good. I will just try again another time. 🙂 I am glad to have this kind of peace in my heart now. To not feel that the world is working against you every moment is another great accomplishment.
If I were to sum up all the lessons in a few sentences, it would be:
Little things matter. It’s not that bad. And everything eventually will be alright.
I know that everything eventually will be alright not just because other people say so, but because I know it in my heart to be true; my heart itself says so. To know that and to feel it everyday lifts a very heavy weight from my heart. It does not mean I have become Superman and can save the day lol but to have that assurance coming from my heart rather than external factors makes me feel much more secure.
I hope that you have enjoyed this journey with me. Thanks so much for taking the time to read, comment and share my smiles with others. I really appreciate it :). This officially marks the end of the smile project on my website. It shall continue in my life though. I might still write about it once in a while but I want to shift my focus back to Flowery Fridays (which I have ignored for a while) and do some private writing away from the Internet. If you missed any posts, please visit this page for links to all the posts.
Keep smiling like flowers and remember that hope is something that we have to create in our own hearts ourselves.
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂