Talk Less. Smile More.

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About a month ago, my brother told me about Hamilton. The book, yes, but also the Broadway show. Some of you are wondering how I could have gone so long without knowing about the runaway hit. Others are wondering why I would even take time to mention the guy on our ten dollar bill.

Hamilton was our first secretary of the treasury from 1789 to 1795. He was also the chief author of The Federalist Papers, but was perhaps most famous for losing his life in a duel with Aaron Burr. Now he’s also famous for being the subject of what may become the most popular show New York has ever seen, nominated for a record-breaking 16 Tony awards.

This line from the play is making its way to tee shirts and posters,

“Talk less, smile more.”

In the play I think it means “Shut up, and keep your opinions to yourself.” In real life, I think it could mean this: Learn to listen. Encourage others. Be kind. Be friendly.

Barry Corey, president of BIOLA University, has written a book about kindness. I’m almost finished reading it and will certainly have more to say about it soon.  I love this line about listening, about simply paying full attention to the person in front of you. “Presence is more eye contact than it is saying something profound. Presence happens when you give your spouse the gift of conversation when you would rather exercise the gift of lawn mowing.”  (Corey, Barry H. Love Kindness: Discover the Power of a Forgotten Christian Virtue.    100.)

I tend toward the gift of lawn mowing. OK, actually in my case it’s the gift of clean the house, or cook, or run errands, or do laundry or write another blog. But I want to learn to talk less, and do a bit less, and smile more, and listen more. I want to get better at considering the person in front of me to be more important than the list in my pocket. I want even my face, the smile on my face, to convey full engagement to those around me, to say, “Listening to what you have to say is more important to me than asking you to hear what I have to say.” That’s a simple (maybe not easy, but simple) way to love those around us.

Talk less, smile more. Wait a week, then email Steve and ask him how I’m doing with that! (And let me know how you are doing with that as well.)

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