Spare a smile?

The wonderful thing about a smile is that you always have an extra to spare. Because as soon as you give it away…Presto! You have another one just waiting to be shared.

One of the four categories of this blog is frugal. That’s all about saving money, living simply without the need for very expensive tastes.

Being frugal with money is one thing. Being frugal with smiles is quite another. For most of us, money is a limited resource.  Being frugal means allocating limited funds where they are most needed, rather than being frivolous with it.

Tweet this quote: “Smiles are the ultimate renewable resource. Don’t be stingy with them.

But smiles are not limited.  They are the ultimate renewable resource.  No matter how many smiles you give away, you will always have as many as you started with.  In fact, you’ll have more, because every smile you share will get you at least one smile shared back, if not dozens.  Loaves and fishes are all very well I suppose, but a smile replenishes itself just as well and it won’t go stale by tomorrow.

Spare a smile


The man in this photo, snapped on Queen Street in Toronto, asks us whether we are willing to spare a smile.

Children spare a smile.  You can too!

Children smile a lot.  They will smile for almost any reason, and for no reason at all.  Adults don’t smile nearly as much.  Why?

Smiles open doors.  Do adults not need any doors opened for them?

Smiles make friends.  Do adults not want friends?

Smiles reduce stress.  Do adults like stress?

In fact, the only stress reliever in shorter supply among adults than smiling is laughter.  Yes, that most amazing, all-natural stress reliever that adults seem to find so hard to embrace.

Read also: The Happiness Poem

But laughter is smiling.  It’s smiling big and wide.  Did you know that in Spanish the word for smile is “sonreír” and the word for laughter is “reír”?  In French, the word for smile is “sourire” and the word for laughter is “rire”.  Coincidence?  I think not.

We have both laughter and smiles in endless abundance.  There is no reason to be stingy with them.  Share as many smiles as you can.  Laugh as often as possible.  Watch how your life improves the more often you spare a smile.

* Photo credit, with permission: Sam Javanrouh




Three rebukes people eagerly give that you should ignore

Society has norms. That’s how we all get along. And when people around us break those norms, we sometimes feel a bit threatened, a bit uncomfortable. I am not talking about norms that are put into law for people’s safety, like murder or rape. I mean things that are simply considered by most people to be “inappropriate”.

And most of us are really quick to chide those who violate those norms. Oh, sure, most of us do so only in our heads. And when we do so out loud, we try to do so “good naturedly” so as to appear less rude than we really are being. But let’s face it, we all say or think such admonishments.

But sometimes, we reproach too hastily. Here are three very common, almost stereotypical rebukes that we would do better to keep to ourselves – and that you would be best to ignore if they are launched at you.

Get a job!

In many cases, this is more like a curse, an insult or a threat. I am not saying that nobody should have a job, but if God has graced you with the skills and opportunity and character to follow your passion without a job, so much the better.

By way of background, there are very few people with total freedom. A few people are almost self-sufficient in their homesteading and a few people are independently wealthy. The rest of us have to barter with other people to get the things we need or want.

I am self employed. I have am still dependent on other (my clients) and so much of what I do is governed by their needs. But I am much freer than someone who has a job.

Even amongst job-holders, there is a big difference one’s level of freedom. A teacher has no choice about what hours he works or what days he takes for vacation; his tasks depend on coordinating his schedule with everybody else. A clerk at a large store can usually choose shifts and co-ordiate vacation days with other people.

A freelancer can work whatever hours he wishes. What a cruel thing it would be to tell him to “Get a job!”

If you live to teach, if that is your passions and that is your fulfillment, you have no choice but to trade in some of your freedom, and you most likely feel it is totally worth while. But if you are doing something else that you find fulfilling, if you are following your passion, ignore the ill-advised advice of the get-a-job crowd.

Need a freelancer?  Click here.

Get a room!

I have no idea where this comes from. Two people are passionately kissing and everybody starts thinking “Get a room!” And often somebody will say it.


Are passion and love and romance and affection things we find distasteful? Apparently we do when it is done in our presence. I am not sure where our discomfort comes from. Perhaps it is envy or jealousy – that it is too vivid a reminder of how our own lives lack that level of passion and excitement.

I think public display of affection is a good thing. Rather than hide what we don’t do enough of, so that we can feel smug in our own comfort zones, why not be reminded of romance? Why not be reminded that we could be a little more passionate? Why not pull us out of our comfort zones and increase our own levels of affection?

Sometimes discomfort is a bad thing. Sometimes it is a good thing. Don’t get a room; share your affection with the world.

Grow Up!

This is perhaps the worst common rebuke I know of. It is typically launched when someone is acting silly or childlike. When someone is not carrying herself with sufficient dignity or maturity, often (but not always) in public.

The problem – and yes, this is a big problem – is that when we become adults we often stop acting silly. We stop kidding around. We stop joking. We are told that we have to carry ourselves with dignity. We are conditioned to believe we have to act reserved. We stop laughing. Don’t look at me that way; how many times do you actually laugh out loud in a typical day? Not nearly enough for your own basic health.

If anybody ever tells you to grow up, there is one thing I recommend you do: laugh!

The Pharmacist is Clowning Around

I would like to introduce you to Fang Li Yun, a 52-year-old Malaysian pharmacist of 24 years.  She is part of what they call the “Funny Action” project, which helps people learn to laugh and to smile even when there is no good news to smile about.

Like so many other people, Fang Li Yun thought happiness would follow her income, and as a pharmacist she was making good money.

But in 2006 she discovered clowning and discovered there was more happiness to be achieved.  This lead to a mission or pilgrimage of sorts with Hunter Doherty “Patch Adams” and a group of thirty other people from various countries to Mexico last year.  Together they visited patients, the homeless, the elderly, shut-ins and  HIV-infected people while dressed in their best clown attire

What made the biggest difference? In 2008, a friend of hers who was president of a breast cancer  support group, asked her this question: “The happiness a clown brings to people is only momentary. How are you going to make the happiness last?”

Now she teaches people how to laugh: “Everyone is born with the ability to laugh. Laughter is the best medicine and an effective way of fighting illnesses. Based on statistics, babies can laugh up to 400-500 times a day, while adults laugh an average of only 14 to 15 times a day.”

Fringe benefits of clowning around include increased self-confidence and reduced stress. Fang Li Yun discovered that whenever she focuses on making other people happy, she also experiences a surge of joy and forgets all her worries and cares.

And she is still a pharmacist.

This post was included in the That Girl Is Funny Blog Carnival.