Radical Smiles :) :) :)

Radical Smiles :) :) :) - by Amy Johnson

I love walking into our office space. It feels so good in here! Especially in this time of pandemic and social strife, the positive environment is important for my mental wellness.


Just inside the front door, there is a powerful "Radical Kindness" mural (painted by the one and only Jaime Lyon <3). It is a reminder to me every time I see it that while this work that we are doing may be as simple as kindness, it is radical.


Being radical takes courage. It's out of the box, it can be loud, brash, & extreme, -- but it doesn't have to be. Being radical can be as subtle as smiling under your mask.


I've been paying a lot of attention to how we as people are interacting with one another during this time, and honestly, it has me concerned. I am afraid that our desire to stay healthy, keep others healthy, and not offend one another has us avoiding the very connection and belonging that we need.


You know I believe in Noticing. I believe that when people know that they are seen, when they know that they are heard, when they know that they matter, the world is a better place.


Well what happens to us if we don't feel like we are seen? What happens if we don't feel like we are heard? What if we don't know that who we are and what we do matters? What happens if those we encounter avoid making eye contact, or refrain from smiling because “Why smile when no one can see it through your mask anyway?” What happens when we don't feel Noticed?


Research tells us that knowing that we are Noticed has a significant impact on how we see ourselves and how we contribute to the communities that we are a part of. In the absence of normal validation and connection we as people can find ourselves struggling with low self-confidence and loneliness (two significant factors leading to depression).


As you may have heard me say before, I am an optimist realist. I love to look for solutions with an open heart and an open mind. It is a “strategy of hope” as I like to call it, and this method always leads to out of the box, radical ideas.


So, here is an idea I'd like to propose. What if we keep smiling through our masks? And, what if we practice in the mirror smiling at ourselves with our masks on? I know that sounds crazy, but please stick with me :)


I see at least two benefits of practicing smiling at ourselves in the mirror (even with a mask on).


First, it is a simple bit of self-care. After all, you spend more time with yourself than any other human on the planet. Smiling at yourself is a way of Noticing yourself, and it certainly is an act of radical kindness that you can give to yourself.


Second, it is a way to make sure that we are ready to share our radical kindness with the world. When we set our intentions about how we want to show up it can boost our confidence, and I believe that if we are out in the world genuinely and intentionally smiling through masks at one another, we will also be connecting and Noticing.


May those simple smiles help you and the amazing humans in your life know that you are Noticed. And just like any time you Notice, you can trust that the goodness you put out into the world will come back to you. - I guess that's just one more reason to call it radical.


Here's to radical smiles :) :) :)


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