07/30/2015 01:26 EDT | Updated 07/30/2016 05:59 EDT

Make Time to Smile


I read a story online this week about a six-year-old boy named Jaden Hayes, who lost both his parents and decided to do something positive rather than give in to his grief.

He's going around his hometown of Savannah, Georgia, giving people a small toy and then asking for a smile, which he then rewards with a hug.

He's recording the smiles with a photo and plans to collect 500 smiles and 500 photos. He also has hopes to do this in other cities, like NYC.

Here in Toronto, we're experiencing a heatwave. Factoring in the humidity, the temperatures are hovering around 40 degrees C. That's over 100 degrees, F. You can imagine that some of us Torontonians might be feeling a bit short-tempered these days.

It's easy for some people to default to grumpy, irritable or angry mode when we're under stress. All we need are the right circumstances -- being over-worked, over-tired or over-heated -- and we can lose our cool.

Grief can make a person not just really sad but also really mad. I've seen people become irritable, impatient and intolerant after they've experienced a major loss.

Knowing that many of us need little provocation to regress into the worst version of ourselves when under stress, it's particularly inspiring to read about this young child who, when coping with such a profound loss, chooses to make people smile.

Psychoanalyst Amy Moran is quoted in the same article by Jennifer O'Neill as saying that Jaden is helping himself as well as others when he gets people to smile.

When we're feeling sad or stressed or over-heated, we should remember Jaden Hayes, and be inspired to be our best self rather than our crankiest self. It will make those around us happy and it will make us happier, too.

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