On any given day, at least three things make me smile.

Usually at least one of them is because of the youngest child, though I expect someday he’ll be much older and less amusing.

(Or maybe I will continue through my life prefacing conversations with colleagues and friends with “Want to hear something that will make you laugh?” and then, when they agree, regaling them with tales of his antics.)

I’ve done the gratitude journals — yes, more than one kind. (How are there more than one variety? HOW?) That’s not a bad approach.

But really, what I want each day is a reminder of why I smile.

Not the cynical smile. Not the doubtful smile. Not the teary smile.

The delighted smile. The laughing smile. The happy-to-be-alive smile.

Three is a good number. Makes you think of the Trinity, in fact.

What would it take to smile three times today? Here are some ideas and some reasons to give it a whirl!

If you struggle with the shorter days, with the impending holidays, with the stress of living, with the burden of finances or drama or what-have you, pause a minute. Grab a piece of paper. Make a numbered list, like so:

Now fill it in with the things that make you smile.

Maybe it’s an idea, like the chocolate-chocolate chip cookies that are currently on my list. Maybe it’s a memory, like the smell of fresh lavender in the garden on a hot June day. Maybe it’s a feeling, like the feel of a small child’s lips on your cheek, a bit wet and slobbery.

But maybe it’s also a possibility, like the hot mug of tea shared with a friend over a red-checked table during a chilly afternoon. Maybe it’s a promise, like the well-worn paperback that you just pulled off the library shelf, knowing the delight that its words will hold for you. Maybe it’s something that caught you by surprise, like the ray of sun or the warm patch of blue sky.

Why go to this effort? Why bother? Why not just think of the three things and call it done?

Well. Yes, you could.

But you could also feel the push of the pen across the paper, hear the scratch of the two surfaces, see the color change the way the paper looks.

There’s something to be said for doing the thing.

Nope, you don’t have to.

But when I do, I find myself changed. Sometimes it’s just a little atom of change, hardly even noticeable.

Other times, though, that small piece of straw is what makes the whole bale a complete whole.

So why not? Grab a piece of scrap paper, a notebook, or a fancy journal and write down three things that make you smile.

I’ll start:

  1. coffee
  2. rosaries
  3. love notes

I was tempted to make that list longer. Betting I could dash off ten things. But what if, each day, you could list three things but never repeat them?

See what just happened?

Go ahead. Have fun. And let me know how it goes… 😉