10 Reasons to Smile

April 7, 2011, by Cathy Fischer

Cathy finds inspiration for lightening up in dark times

The world seems to be in an upheaval these days. There’s so much bad news, it makes me want to burst into tears. But, I’ve decided to take a different path, to turn away from the sad and focus on the good.

From soul stirring to silly, brilliant to ballsy, here are ten things to get your face grinning.

#1) Smile! It’s Good for You

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh suggests that we look at ourselves in the mirror each day and smile. “What better way to start the day than with a smile?” he writes. “Our smile affirms our awareness and determination to live in peace and joy.“

Smiling lowers blood pressure and relieves stress, it’s contagious, and everyone looks better when they smile. Even if you don’t feel like it, try smiling and get some sunshine from deep within.

#2) Hop on the Bus Gus!

In Los Angeles, where wheels rule, the Do Good Bus gives participants an opportunity to get involved in their community. With no religious affiliation, each trip is different and assignments are kept a secret until on board.

Activities range from building new homes to creating guerrilla gardens, helping high school seniors with college applications to giving out hugs to strangers. One of the endeavors they support, “The Burrito Project”, deserves its own smile.


#3) Rice and Beans Wrapped Up in Love

Feeding the homeless and hungry, The Burrito Project started in 2006 with two bicycle riders and 90 burritos. Now they have over 20 riders and feed 300 to 400 people weekly in the LA area. But wait, there’s more….

Anyone can start a Burrito Project, a DIY blog tells you how. There are many Projects throughout the U.S., one in Ciudad, Mexico and even a Falafel Project based in Damascus, Syria.


#4) Humor for the Slithery Soul

If you haven’t heard, a 20-inch Egyptian Cobra went missing in the Bronx Zoo a couple of weeks ago. The snake became one of New York’s most famous celebrities, inspiring comedians of all stripes. Twitter’s @BronxZoosCobra kept me in stitches!

Here are a few entries from the escaped reptile as she made her way around the Big Apple (there’s an Adam and Eve joke in there somewhere) to her eventual capture almost one week later.

Got a bagel at H & H Bagels on upper west side. When I ordered I said, “I’ll have the snakes on a PLAIN.” He did not laugh. Tough crowd.

Leaving Wall Street. These guys make my skin crawl. #snakeonthetown

Enjoying a cupcake @magnoliabakery. This is going straight to my hips. Oh, wait. I don’t have hips. Yesss!

A lot of you are asking for details of my capture. Basically I was caught between the moon and New York City. #snakeinthezoo


#5) Teens Bloom Through Songs from the Heart

60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl spent a year following this amazing story.

“There’s a street in Harlem that comes alive every Saturday with the sound of gospel music. You won’t find any church there — just a brownstone full of teenagers and the woman who draws them in. Her name is Vy Higginsen, a New York radio personality and theater producer. Five years ago she created something called Gospel for Teens.… And if you’re thinking that Higginsen thought up this program as a way to save the teens, you’d be wrong. She did it to save the music.”

Like Gospel music, Vy Higginsen lifts people up. See the stories and hear the voices of these kids, some of whom are having hard times in their young lives. Get out your hankies, there may be some tears of joy served up with this smile.


#6) The Happiness Project

I’ve been on the email list for The Happiness Project for almost three years and have watched its founder Gretchen Rubin go from hesitant experimenter to best-selling author. Her book is an account of the year she spent test-driving studies and theories about how to be happier. You can get her findings on the site and even start your own Happiness Project.


#7) GOOD is Good

A website and quarterly print magazine covering a variety of topics, GOOD describes itself as “ a collaboration of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits pushing the world forward.” They also send daily doses of good stuff via email.

Here’s a tidbit:
“The special effects wizards over at Weta (they’re the folks who made the costumes and creatures for the Lord of the Rings movies) recently designed a mermaid tail so Nadya Vessey, a double amputee, can swim. And they did it just to be nice.”


#8) This is Your Brain On…

All those theories about dead brain cells from partying in your youth can now go up in smoke. There have been some very exciting discoveries lately in the field of brain science concerning the plasticity, adaptive nature and self-correcting features of the human brain. Brain cells actually do regenerate! New neurons are created in the brain every day, even in people in their 70s.

If this type of stuff fascinates you, as it does me, you can hear the experts for free during the New Brain Science Teleseminar Series on Wednesdays at 5:00 PM Eastern / 2:00 Pacific until May 4th. (For access at other times there’s a fee.)


#9) Interpretive Pooch Makes Beautiful Music

This video says it all. Sing in the shower, sing in the car, sing like no one is listening and sing your heart to happy!

#10) Kittens, Kittens, Kittens!

Need I say more?


I hope these 10 reasons have helped you smile your way to a better day.

Share your own smile stimulant. What makes you smile?

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23 Responses to “10 Reasons to Smile”

  1. dearpru Says:

    I don’t mean to rain on your smile parade, Cathy, but I’m feeling a little pressure now to go to each of these links and spend some serious time being happier. Can you write me a note so I can be excused from all my obligations for the next week? Because that’s how long it’s gonna take me to go through the list. Not that I’m complaining or anything…it could be worse, I suppose. You could have had 11 or 12 reasons to smile. Oh, the stress of it all! Please pass the Prozac and make mine a double.

  2. Cathy Says:

    Oh my Dearpru – You need not go to any of those sites, well maybe 60 Minutes, but only when you have about 20 minutes to spare. If you want to explore further, you can. The point is for you to read about these uplifting things, have a chuckle and a smile right now (with or without Prozac). Actually… #1 – Smile! That’s the one you can add to your daily routine. No pressure! (smiley face)

  3. christie Says:

    I have the biggest smile on my face… thank you Clever Cat, or should I say Kitten? Whenever I am feeling glum,I can come back here and pick one of the links to lift me up.

  4. dearpru Says:

    Awww, Cathy, I was just giving you a hard time!

  5. Cathy Says:

    Yes, I know Pru, but you do bring up a good point. Some of us are sitting in the pressure cooker and this may seem like just too much! You helped me to define my purpose, so I took the opportunity. Thanks!

    Now for one more, something that makes the corners of my mouth turn up… THE BAD PUN!

    ok, I’ll admit it, I love a good bad pun! Others may grimace or groan, but I love them! Even the groaning makes me smile. Recently at work we were discussing a documentary about the history of Viagra. It was a stimulating discussion, a marathon of sorts but we were up for it…

  6. dearpru Says:

    Heh-heh…I don’t know about ten reasons to smile, but I sure have had my share of giggles today thanks to our post-blog repartee!

    (And, P.S. I WILL get around to the 60 Minutes piece…)

  7. Nancy Says:

    Loved the kittens, and the burritos too:)

  8. Conz Says:

    YOU. You make me smile. Everyone should have the pleasure of knowing someone who strives to look for sunshine even the bleakest of times. So thank you for the giggles and for reminding us that there are some things we can choose to be happy about. I just love you to pieces, chica.

  9. Zoe Says:

    Thanks, Cathy! I think these need to reside on my desktop. The snake quotes crack me up…

  10. Mellimel Says:

    Something caused me to laugh out loud
    yesterday. Wish I could remember what it was
    and go back for more. For my penny that singing
    dog really has been doing it for me more days.
    Sing it out, sing it loud and then move on to the
    next thing.

  11. Sybil Says:

    The snake’s quotes did more than make me smile, I out and out laughed!! Thank you!! That put an exclamation point on my morning which has been a good one so far!!

  12. Wendy Says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is such a timely post. I woke up suddenly early this morning, thinking about the people in Japan, and how much they had to bear. I try to stay upbeat, but it’s been hard recently. I’m not going to stop thinking about them, but a little break with a singing, piano-playing dog and a vaudeville comic snake is good medicine.

  13. Pam Says:

    Hi Cathy:
    Hoorah! You made me smile! My ten things are as follows:
    1.Thinking about you 2.Reading my kid’s text messages 3.Looking at my two dogs (especially when they are sleeping and especially when the bijon sleeps on his back omg) 4. Conversing with my students 5. Thinking about growing up especially thinking about my parents and grandparents 6.Thinking about the future of my kids – that also makes me cry :( 7. Seeing babies and small children 8. Waking up to my husband tucking me in 9.Hearing funny jokes 10.Having a sunny day – But I am not as sophisticated and brilliant as you are my dear! I love you loads!

  14. Carine Says:

    That dog is utterly hysterical. Thank you!

  15. Lala Says:

    Love it! (HeeHee). I want enhance reason number #1 and add awareness of the ‘inner smile’. This is an idea I’ve learned through meditation whereby when you’re sitting with your eyes close, or anytime really, give yourself a slight internal smile, a knowing that lights up your inner space and your heart chakra. I find a such a strong sense of joy and satisfaction with this little remembering.

  16. Simone Says:

    Love your blog. Makes me think of the photo i have of you in your dance wear with the smile that covers your whole face.
    Thought this is definitely a winner :


  17. Julie Says:

    Cathy, I love this. Good to be reminded of the need to stretch those facial muscles.

    Funny, I’ve been ruminating on the Thich Nhat Hanh quote for the past week – really moves me (into a grin).

    As to the Egyptian cobra, she now has been officially named Mia, as in Missing In Action. Out of 33,000 submissions this was the best they could do? Anyhow, those of us in NYC can get back to our meditative smiling now that she is back in captivity. Phew!

    Thanks for the smiles!

  18. Cathy Says:

    Love, love, love to my peeps! Your comments make me grin from ear to ear! As for Mia the “vaudeville snake” — she may be captured, but she’s still tweeting:

    “So, the vote is in. They want to name me Mia. But in my heart I’ll always know that my true name is Mrs. Justin Bieber.”

  19. Lynda Keeler Says:

    love these especially the Cobra, Good magazine and the Burrito project. Cathy, you made my day.

  20. SimplyForties Says:

    What a great idea! Your article makes me smile!

  21. valentina2605 Says:

    Now i’m actually delighted I came across this posting. It’s well written and the subject material is great. I am hoping to find more like this.

  22. sara7789 Says:

    This is a well thought out post. It’s creatively written and quite enlightening. If only other blog writers could present submissions this good. Keep up the good work.

  23. palmer102 Says:

    You will scarcely come across content like this anymore. I remember when you could find a few posts similar to this in a few minutes but now it’s substantially more difficult.

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