The Inspiration of Nick’s Smile

08/09/2016 05:53 pm ET

There’s a fellow at our church who sings in the choir. He is probably one of the most unlikely choir members you could hope to find in any choir anywhere. He has some sort of mental impairment that affects his physical coordination as well. Whatever the medical term for his condition, the upshot is he has difficulty keeping time, sometimes he’s on the beat, sometimes off. Sometimes he hits the key, sometimes not. Sometimes he finds the correct words in the song, sometimes not.

Yet, despite all that, Nick* has the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. All the time! You say “hello” to him, and he glows, as if angels had just appeared singing “Hallelujah!” Nick finds something positive, something complimentary to say to everyone he encounters, no matter how many times he’s seen a particular person―and always with great enthusiasm and joy.

Occasionally Nick will give one of us a handwritten poem―the very simplest of expressions, along the lines of “I’m happy, birds are happy, the day is happy too.” But written and shared with such love, it makes me want to cry.

I don’t know what enables Nick to be as happy as he is. It would be so easy for him to lament his condition, to compare himself to others and find himself lacking. Isn’t that what so many of us do, so often? You don’t get that job, that promotion, and so you beat yourself up as being incompetent, not good enough. Or we turn around and blame someone else for it: “they” must have kissed up to the boss or sabotaged my chances.

Same thing with the weight you don’t lose or the gym you can’t get yourself to. Not to mention your relationship, which is less than stellar, or your kids who’ve got “Whatever” down to a fine art. There must be something wrong with you or something wrong with them. 

Self-beating up, blame and finger pointing at others has a dreadful consequence: it sucks the joy out of life. You cannot run around seeing the “wrong” in people or situations and expect to be happy. Life just doesn’t work that way.

I want to be like Nick. I want to rejoice in the simple fact of living. I want to find something wonderful about everyone I encounter. I want to do the best I can with whatever resources I have.

I want to be happy as much and as often as I possibly can. And I am so very very grateful to Nick for shining the light of his smile, so generously and freely given, reminding me how easy it is to be happy, if only we let it be so.

 

*name changed to protect privacy

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