They say laughter is the best medicine, but I have found over time that smiles can heal, as well.

And nothing makes me smile more than puppies and kittens.

And my grandchildren.

Many years ago, I had an

experience with an elderly woman who was not in good health.

I saw her every day where I was living; she always frowned and seldom spoke to me.

I made a habit of smiling and saying hello when we passed in the hallway.

This went on for some months. One day, as our paths were about to cross in that same hallway, she stopped. I stopped, waiting for the ax to fall.

Then, she smiled and reached out to hug me.

She thanked me for always smiling, and admitted how much those brief moments had lifted her spirits in spite of all her suffering.

I’ve tried to keep smiling ever since.

It’s tough some days — as it is for everyone. Whether it’s a sore back, a sour stomach or lack of sleep, we can go through the day just feeling lousy.

That’s when seeing a cute puppy or kitten can alleviate a bit of that pain and lighten the burden.

Adopting one of those little bundles can be tempting, but the smiles aren’t necessarily a constant.

Just like caring for the infant whose smiles light up the day, it’s a constant responsibility.

Puppies and kittens like to chew — on everything.

They get into a lot of stuff they shouldn’t, destroying slippers, shredding draperies, and so forth.

Being awakened at 6 a.m. every morning — including weekends — to give them the love they seek can get annoying.

But, I’m a sucker, and I can’t help smiling when I see their faces.

Another option is to volunteer at an animal shelter, if only I had the time!

Getting a dose of “puppy love” once a week for a few hours would be fantastic, without the 24/7 duties.

For some, smiles might be sparked by bird watching or butterflies, sweet classic cars or beautiful roses.

Whatever the source, it’s crucial to find time to do what you love, even if only for a few minutes at a stretch, and keep smiling.

The world will be the better for it!

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