The Most Beautiful Gift You Can Give

A real live smile, with a little bit of mustache for added oomph.

A real live smile, with a little bit of mustache for added oomph.

Over the last few days I’ve been building a new Love Extremist website. In this process I am challenged to introduce myself and share a recent photograph. Surely I could find no shortage of great shots to share having such talented photographer friends. However, when I began digging, I couldn’t find any photos of me smiling. There were plenty of amazing, ‘cool’ shots from recent journeys I’ve taken, but the joy was subtle, masked behind a pop of red on my car or a little flash of teal in my outfit, no clear Ethan ‘cheesin’ to be found.

Upon realizing this deficit in joyous options I posted a more serious shot where I was at least making eye/lens contact with Daniel, the photographer. Some friends who have been helping me with the site commented that perhaps a less serious shot would better suit the page. Today, I realized this unsmiling persona I seem to be carrying in the digital world is directly out of alignment with being a Love Extremist. In fact, the most basic and elegant path to embodying the Love Extremist mindset is to share your smile.

The smile can be vulnerable, it can be challenging when things aren’t rosy, it can feel fake or forced. This is not a treatise on the value of sharing anything fake, including your smile. That being said, a real, authentic smile, in my view, is the simplest and most beautiful gift you can give to another human.

A smile is contagious, it’s universally understood, even by many animals, and it is a means to radiate joy and love. These days, it feels like a public service to spread as much of that joy and love as we can muster.

Today I am committing to sharing my smile and opening to the gifts that come back. I invite you to join me.

Tag #loveextremist and #passiton when you post, I’d love to see your smiles!

Follow Ethan on Medium for more musings. This blog originally appeared on Medium on June 4, 2018.