For the month of November I spent every weekend writing assignments and surrounded by me, myself and I for almost the entire weekend. I began to feel a bit lonely but I knew if I did surround myself with people I would be too distracted and get no work done.
Both these quiet weekends and my morning bus journey to college every day I started to appreciate the little moments in my days that would make me smile. No matter how stressed I was, trying to complete assignments and having a million and one other things to finish up before the end of the semester I made a conscious effort to find a smile in every day. There’s something about laughing and smiling that brings me back to childhood and how carefree you are as a kid.
There is no better stress relief than laughter, even noticing little things in your day that take you out of your panicked state of mind and allow you to relive moments of being carefree. Over the past few months I have witnessed so many things that made me smile, happenings that restored my faith in humanity, moments that pulled at my heartstrings and glimpses into other people’s worlds, especially the world of a child.
There is something I love so much about when people say thank you to the bus drivers on Dublin bus, it seems to not matter how distracted, zoned out or in a rush people are, almost everyone says ‘Thank you’, ‘Cheers’, ‘Thanks’ as they get off the bus and their days begin or end. The simple gesture of someone allowing me to go through a door or off a bus before them is another thing makes me smile and reaffirms that we the human race haven’t become completely self-absorbed!
I noticed a few weekends ago as I walked down Grafton Street having been treated to dinner by my sister that in almost every door way there were homeless people with nothing between them and the cold, hard ground but a thin sleeping bag or cardboard. My heart sinks every time I pass over a person who is homeless. I did however feel a sense of relief when I saw volunteers with clothes, blankets and hot food. As people queued to get their food I noticed one rather thin and weather beaten face cracking a semi-toothless smile as he was handed a cup of hot soup and the words ‘God bless ya love’ passed his lips in thanks to the woman who was doing her part in something we all should be involved in in reality.
Just before Christmas I got a taxi to the bus station in Belfast the taxi driver made sure I was going to catch my bus despite the crazy Christmas traffic in Belfast, and I did make it. After a chat about Irish and how beautiful Donegal is he went above and beyond when my bank card wouldn’t validate the payment for the taxi and all I had on me was about half the fare which he said ‘would do’. He didn’t have to do that, he could have insisted I went and got money out which is exactly what I would have offered. I find it funny, in the best way possible how things such as Ireland and tírghrá or the love of our country brings out the best in people.
In the midst of the stress of rushing for a bus home he didn’t let anything get in the way of me catching that bus. Also in Belfast as I wandered around the shops there were several young buskers but the one that caught my attention and made me smile was a little boy, dressed as Michael Jackson, with not the best dance moves in the world, dancing his little heart out to raise money for the Children’s Hospital. How thoughtful and selfless for a child to do this, and a reminder to us all to be charitable!
Last weekend at Christmas day Mass there was a gorgeous little girl who is adopted from China and happens to have Down syndrome sitting in the aisle opposite me with her father. She sat patiently through mass cuddling and kissing her Belle doll gently on the forehead. She would occasionally look up and just smile, her smile was infectious!
As ridiculous as it may sound but starting your day with a smile can often lead to a day in a positive mind-set. Look for those little things in your day that can give you a laugh or make you smile. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh and whose presence brings a smile to your face.