There is an old saying that goes something like this: “it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown.” When it comes to the subject of a photo, I respectfully disagree. I can count on one hand the number photos of myself that I actually like my smile. There is just something about being in front of a camera that I find uncomfortable and would much rather be behind the camera. I remember standing for photos at our wedding day twelve years ago. It was the worst hour of the best day of my life…and that one hour seemed like ten. I have vivid memories of the photographer pausing to tell me to smile, then to move my chin 3 millimeters to the right, then the left, then up, then down. Looking back at it now, it was really comical. I was tense, the day was stressful enough. I didn’t need this photographer on my case! 🙂 Each time I was told to put on a better smile the more tense I became and the harder it was to smile.
Now don’t get me wrong, smiling is good. Smiling feels good. There are few simple pleasures in life that feel better than a returned smile from someone else, be it your spouse or even a stranger. Today’s world makes it hard to smile. Things seem more stressful today. The 24 hour news cycle the feeds a feeling of a crisis around every corner. We check our smartphones on a constant basis. These devices drive an unnatural urge to continually see what our friends and family are up to on Facebook or Twitter. They also tie us in real time to every minor crisis at work regardless if we are “on duty” or not. It is well documented that all of this noise around us is stressing us out and sometimes makes it hard to smile.
We’ve been fortunate to go on a European vacation two summers in a row. I really enjoy meeting new people in different countries, learning about their culture and way life. Even Europe, one is not safe from the barrage of electronic communications from our smartphones and devices. My phone was tethered to my waist. WiFi was everywhere, allowing us to stay in contact with family and friends via Facebook, Skype, text messages, and email. Despite the tether to digital communication, the time difference allowed me to disconnect from the everyday stresses, recharge my batteries, and, yes, eventually smile. It wasn’t easy, but I eventually go there and even have proof…
This is the first in a new series on this blog to put the travel in the Blog Less Traveled. The posts will go through the practical aspects of European travel, spin in a story or two from our travels and if the inspiration is there, connect with what is important in life today. I hope you enjoy.