Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

May 14, 2013

Mom’s simple advice still presents a valuable challenge

Most moms don’t base their advice on scientific research.

(Unless, of course, your mother is a scientific researcher. If so, carry a No. 2 pencil and take good notes.)

Instead, their words of wisdom come from a greater source — the heart, where they store and process life experiences.

Unfortunately, some folks don’t receive the gift of maternal guidance, for various reasons. Even then, a female authority figure — a grandmother, older sister, aunt, foster mom, teacher or church member — occasionally steps in at the right moment and offers a memorable comment to a kid who needs it.

Motherly advice can carry staying power.

My mom hasn’t had to wake me up since I was a senior in high school. (She can sleep in these days, if she chooses.) My wife handles that routine now. Still, on many mornings, while we’re still waking up, I find myself repeating a phrase Mom said in those early hours of almost every day of my childhood and youth …

“Rise and shine, and face the world with a smile,” she’d say, almost singing it.

Back then, I probably thought that sentence meant: get up, don’t grumble, get dressed, eat your breakfast, brush your teeth, go to school, be happy. And, simply tackling that checklist is indeed an accomplishment for an 8-year-old, or an 18-year-old. A few decades later, though, Mom’s vocal reveille challenges me to go beyond a clean-shaven grin.

It’s not just a matter of smiling. Many of us can mentally go to our “happy place” and end up chuckling alone and that’s not a bad thing. As Andy Rooney once said, “If you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it.” True inner joy. What a blessing.

Mom’s motto asks us to go one step further, to share that smile. “Face the world” with it.

The world isn’t always easy to face with any expression. On our darkest days, it’s tempting to see Earth and its other 7 billion human occupants as more worthy of a frown or a blank stare from us. Life brings hard knocks — the loss of a loved one, a job layoff, a broken home, addictions, flaring tempers at the Little League park, a bully at school, foreclosure, a fender-bender, a busted furnace.

My mom, who raised five kids with my dad and watched her own mother raise seven children as a single widow during the Depression, understood the “life-isn’t-always-fair” reality, but also that wonderful moments happen, too. Her own joyful, early morning smiles showed me the best way to face the ups and downs.

It wasn’t just a hunch, either. Mom’s “rise and shine, and face the world with a smile” admonition has a historic and, yes, scientific basis.

Its opening words are biblical, appearing in the Book of Isaiah, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” Centuries later, British Army officers began a tradition of rousing the troops, hollering, “Wakey, wakey, rise and shine.” (Thankfully, Mom omitted the “wakey, wakey” part.)

The latter portion of the motto, “face the world with a smile,” holds proven, positive effectiveness. People who smiled after taking on a stressful task showed a greater decrease in heart rate than folks who kept a blank face in a 2012 study conducted by researchers at the University of California-Irvine, according to the Wall Street Journal. Some folks wear a “Duchenne” smile (named for a 19th-century neurologist), full and genuine, triggering major eye muscles as well as those around the mouth. Others sport a “Pan Am” smile (such as those exhibited in obligatory and polite fashion by airline stewardesses) involving just mouth muscles.

A smile, deep or superficial, also can predict satisfaction in life and longevity, the same report states.

That’s the conclusion reached by different researchers, led by psychology professor Matthew Hertenstein, who oversees the school’s Touch and Emotion Lab, at DePauw University in Greencastle. They interviewed 650 adults and collected school-age photos from each person. Those who wore the brightest smiles in those pictures were three times more likely to have a strong marriage than those who frowned, the DePauw team discovered through those interviews. Their results created a chicken-or-the-egg question — which comes first, the smile or the happiness?

“Maybe smiling represents a positive disposition towards life,” Hertenstein said in a 2009 DePauw news release, quoting an MSNBC story. “Or maybe smiling people attract other happier people, and the combination may lead to a greater likelihood of a long-lasting marriage. We don’t really know for sure.”

With that element of mystery in mind, resist the urge to go back through childhood scrapbooks or high school yearbooks to assess your facial expressions or draw a grin onto a photo. Instead, the best we can do is create a brighter picture the next morning, if we rise and shine, and face the world with a smile. Then, for those who can, give your mom a call and thank her for that opportunity.

Mark Bennett writes for the (Terre Haute) Tribune-Star. He can be reached at mark.bennett@tribstar.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • DAN COATS: New Harmony marks its 200th anniversary Situated between St. Louis and Louisville, New Harmony is a small town in southwest Indiana smaller than 1 square mile in area. Fewer than 1,000 Hoosiers call this serene Posey County community home.Despite its size, the town has monumental significa

    July 31, 2014

  • Rob Burgess House of Burgess: Let's put lethal injection to sleep

    It was only a matter of time before this happened again; and I’m sad to say I’m not surprised at all.
    On July 22, the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for the killing of Arizona death row inmate James R. Wood III, who had filed suit requesting a delay until the state revealed the details of the drugs that would be used to end his life.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • ANDREA NEAL: Fleeting canal era had lasting impact on state Editor’s note: This is one in a series of essays leading up to the celebration of the Indiana Bicentennial in December 2016. In 1825, the Erie Canal was completed to great fanfare. Cannon fire, parades, balls and speeches celebrated the speed and ski

    July 30, 2014

  • TOM LoBIANCO: Pence, Bayh crowd field with questions In the 2016 political landscape, a pair of the state's political big dogs -- Republican Gov. Mike Pence and former Democratic U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh -- have potential candidates holding their breath and waiting on them. Until Pence says otherwise, he's

    July 29, 2014

  • JEFFREY McCALL: All things Hillary are not news, just distractions This column has nothing to do with who should or will win the presidential election in 2016. It has nothing to do with partisan politics of any flavor. This column does, however, assess how television is oversaturating the "news" agenda with countles

    July 29, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: World is rising up to meet Putin's thuggery Any illusions I had about the progressive nature of Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime quickly dissipated when I returned to my Moscow Grand Marriott room in August 2007. Upon opening the door, I was greeted with the spectacle of my papers and note pads

    July 28, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: A trip to end all trips My wife is planning a very exciting vacation to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. This was a big surprise to me. Not the vacation part, but the 35 years. I thought it was 34. Right now she is on the back porch, the patio table stacked high with

    July 28, 2014

  • ED VASICEK: Happy marriages do not just happen My wife, Marylu, and I met through a mutual friend. My wife had been involved with Campus Crusade at her university, where my friend, Norman, also attended. One Christmas break, Norman invited his friends from church (including me) to a party — along

    July 27, 2014

  • MICHAEL HICKS: Truth about inflation Almost nothing in economics seems to confuse people as much as monetary inflation. That confusion leaves an intellectual void into which some of the least credible ideas of the modern world crawl.Goods and services typically have a price dictated in

    July 27, 2014

  • RAY DAY: Some laws will do us in In my opinion, we have made laws that are contrary to what they were intended. And this writer is going to let you in on his thoughts about them. One of the things that has been processed incorrectly is the child abuse law. When you tell the parent h

    July 26, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller