Right now, I bet you are saying, “I should have a what? A Smile File?” Yes, I said a Smile File. Curious what exactly this item is that I am proclaiming you need? Id’ be happy to explain, by way of a little story, of course. 🙂
Years ago, I had a career as a financial services representative. During a visit at my office with my manager, Bill, I shared a neat note with him that I had gotten from one of my clients. In the note, the client was thanking me for a job well done in helping them decide what to do with assets they had after a family member had died. Their words were warm and complimentary. Bill suggested that I should keep that note close at hand. “You know, you don’t get those every day,” he said. “In fact, you should use it to start your Smile File.”
Intrigued, I said, “Do tell – What’s a Smile File?!” Bill described that many years ago, he had an idea to keep complimentary notes he got from colleagues, friends, family and clients in a file in his desk. He explained that on the slow, tough days, when he felt like he could do little right, he reached into his desk, and pulled out that Smile File. Its contents reminded him of better days, and even better relationships with those who wrote the notes. It served as an amazing pick-me-up and confidence rebuilder on less-than-stellar days.
I’ve kept a Smile File ever since. And these nifty things aren’t just for professionals either, you know!
Smile Files for Everyone!
What reminded me of all this was a wonderful thank you note (and gift) I got from Alyssa’s teacher today. She was thanking me for the time I volunteered in her classroom this year. It made my week…heck, if I’m completely honest, it made my month! We all need to be affirmed from time to time. Especially with this job we call motherhood (and fatherhood), the pats on the back, and the ” nice jobs!” can be a bit elusive. Parenting is not a job where you put in a few months on “the project,” you get kudos for a job well done, and you move on to the next task at hand. Seeing the results of our hard work takes years, and the job is not complete until our kids are grown, well-adjusted, able to support themselves.
The Evolution of My Smile File
My Smile File started out as just a simple colored file folder like the one in the photograph. For years, I had my smile file in my kitchen planning desk. Then a couple years back, my thoughtful friend, Boni, decided to do something extra special for our close group of friends at Christmas. She bought beautiful, decorated boxes for each of us, and filled them with notecards she made that said, “Thank you for…”. She then asked each of us to share with one another why we were special to eachother. WOW! Great idea, huh? I’ve referred back to those loving words of cherished friends many times. The box was so cute that I’ve slipped all my smile file notes in there.
As I photographed the box tonight, I read through the notes. It reminded me of the incredible relationships I have. I smiled and teared when I read how special people in my life described me and the importance of our relationships. It assured me that, despite the things about myself that view as weaknesses, or areas I’d like to improve, I’m a pretty stand-up gal, and that my heart is in the right place. Who couldn’t use that kind of pick-me-up from time to time?
So…start a new tradition…at work, at home, with friends, with family. Start your own Smile File, and make regular deposits into it! Send a note to a special someone and remind them why you love them. And then, when a rough day descends, read a few notes, reflect on your relationships, and move on!