If You’re Happy And You Know It, Tell Your Face

big smile

(This post was originally published in July 2011. Enjoy).

I once bought a book based solely on the cover. I realize that people will say not to do that, but I did it anyway. I also quickly figured out why the old adage to not judge a book by the cover is so true after reading the first few pages of my newly acquired Harlequin Romance novel.

Millions of dollars are spent each and every year on book covers. Marketing on book covers could mean the difference between a New York Time’s bestseller and a book selling for $2 the clearance shelf.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been using this space to tell millions of readers of this column how to get their lives back, or at least how I rediscovered my own life. This week I want to continue with my thoughts with a look at the classic smile.

Just like buying a book, sometimes we are judged based on our cover. Sometimes, I’m afraid that we even judge ourselves based on our “cover”, our smile. The good news is, unlike a book on the clearance shelf, we can change our cover to improve our lives.

That’s all because the smile is a powerful thing.

A University of California Berkley study looked at photos from a high school yearbook and tried to measure their success throughout life just based on how a photo looked.

According to Ron Gutman, who was part of the study, “by measuring their student smiles, researchers were able to predict how fulfilling and long-lasting a subject’s marriage will be, how well she would score on standardized tests of well-being and how inspiring she would be to others.”

Gutman pointed to another study in 2010 at Wayne State University, where researchers did a similar study of baseball cards. Researchers found that the span of a player’s smile related to his actual life span.

“Players who didn’t smile in their pictures lived an average of only 72.9 years, where players with beaming smiles lived an average of almost 80 years,” Gutman said.

That seems a little nuts, but I believe it happens for two reasons: 1) because we feel better when we smile. 2) because others see us differently when we smile.

Smiling, while a simple act, seems to automatically elevate a person’s mood. It’s hard for me to be mad when I smile. You would probably find that true too.

And I don’t know about you, but I seem to be more drawn to people who smile. If a cashier at the store has a mopey frown on their face, I’m more likely to move to another line or at least not engage that person like I might someone who is smiling.

Being happy has got to extend a person’s life, if not by quantity than at least by quality. It’s a miserable existence to go through life without a smile.

I haven’t always been a smiling person. When I look back at my school year photos I see a kid with a half smirk on his face (except for my third grade photo, which I swear was switched with some little red-headed buck-toothed kid and isn’t me to begin with). I was a pretty happy kid, I guess, but a lot of times my face didn’t show it.

Maybe that’s why the Mona Lisa is such an inspiring and mysterious painting. That little upturn to his lips reveals that something is going on in Mona’s life that we aren’t privy too and it drives us nuts. We want to know her secret.

A couple of years ago I needed to find out how to get the happiness of my childhood back.

So I read somewhere that smiling is an important part of the way we feel and how others feel about us. So I started to smile more.

I still don’t do it all the time. Sometimes when I’m out in public I seem to have a very intense look on my face, some might even call it a scowl. I can tell when other people catch me with my scowl because they look at me different. I’m sure they are wondering, “why is that guy so angry? Is it because he listens to too much Rush Limbaugh? Why are his shoes untied? Why is his hair so messed up like that? Why doesn’t he get that mustard stain off his shirt?” You know, those types of questions.

It’s those looks that remind me that I need to soften the face, relax my lips and smile.

As you can tell from my column mug shot, I sometimes still have more of a smirk than a full-out smile. But I smile.

You try it. It feels pretty good. See you just smiled right there didn’t you?

I think all my readers should go around for the next 30 days or so and smile every chance you get. Smile at a baby. Smile at a playing dog. Smile at a person who isn’t smiling. Smile at Rush Limbaugh. Whatever the situation, smile. That would be millions of people out there making a difference (Editor’s note: Or at least a dozen or so).

It will probably make you feel better immediately. And people will think you must be a happy, successful individual or you wouldn’t be smiling like the Cheshire Cat.

When people look at me, I want them to see a person that enjoys life, likes to be happy and doesn’t listen to Rush Limbaugh.

A smile could add years to your life. And if it doesn’t, it will surely add life to your years.


My Brush With Greatness

kate plus 8

(This post was originally published in October 2009. Enjoy)


Like most people I am completely enamored in the lives of celebrities. Every morning I have to wake up and find out what the latest is between John and Kate Gosselin of “John And Kate Plus 8,” or as it is now called “Kate And the Kids” and “John Minus 9.”

Well because of my constant fascination with the celebrity, I will now tell you about my two brushes with greatness recently. I hope you, dear reader, appreciate these brushes with celebrity much more than my wife did.

My wife and I recently took a little get-a-way trip to the lake. We found a cabin and just wanted to get away from everything and “see what happened.” Well, I’ll tell you what happened, were in the presence of greatness most of the weekend.

First of all, the first evening we took a little trip to Winstar Casino in beautiful and historic Thackerville, Okla. I wanted to do a little research to see if I could quadruple my money in just a little over an hour (UPDATE: after several hours of research, I found that it is indeed impossible). I won a little bit of money, but that’s not the greatness part. The greatness part was a man called Jason Aldean.

For those of you who may not know, Jason Aldean is a country singer of such hits as “Amarillo Sky,” “Hicktown,” “Laughed Until We Cried,” and my personal favorite “Back In This Cigarette.” He just happened to be in concert at Winstar Friday evening and people were loving it. Every country music fan was dressed up in the Friday-go-to-concert best and stood in line waiting for the show to begin.

That’s when it hit me.

I looked at my wife and said, “Do you realize that we are breathing the same air as Jason Aldean right now? Right now.”

She looked at me like I was crazy. But I thought it was pretty cool that we were in the same “building” as the great country singer.

Anyway, we stayed in beautiful and historic downtown Thackerville until I won some money back and then we walked away from some slot machine named “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Where Did My Money Go” and went back to the cabin.

That’s when the other brush with fate happened.

Our cabin happened to be on Lake Texoma, one of the largest lakes in Grayson county. Lake Texoma is a confluence of two rivers: The Red River and the Washita River. It’s a great body of water.

The weather was beautiful, so we went outside to enjoy the full moon on the lake. As we sat there on the shore, taking in the sounds of the water lapping at our feet, the smell of fresh lake air, the sight of the moon’s silvery reflection on the lake, I explained our situation.

I turned to my wife and said, “Do you realize that this water has small, microscopic remnants of Sam Bradford’s pee?”

“You see,” I explained, “the water from the Washita River is more than likely carrying some water from the water reclamation center near Oklahoma City and Norman. Sam Bradford, who lives in Norman, when he’s not sitting with the gods on Mt. Olympus, “makes water” in Norman, flushes the toilet and then the water floats down the sewer system to the water reclamation plant. Most of that water gets cleansed and sent back through the system somehow. Some of it, however, sneaks out and runs south through the river systems, eventually winding up in the Gulf of India.

Just kidding. It winds up in the Gulf of Aden.

Kidding again. It actually mingles with urine along other rivers all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico (You’re welcome).

My wife just looked at me like I was nuts and then hit me on the shoulder, like I had ruined a perfectly romantic evening.

But this is Heisman Trophy Winner Sam Bradford. Future NFL quarterback Sam Bradford. And we were sitting on the bank looking over millions of gallons of water, quite possibly holding some of this future Hall of Famer’s bladder refuse.

It was pretty awesome.

Did You Know You Can See Stars At Night?





While on a brief trip to the country, I really enjoyed several things that I had forgotten about.

I forgot about how quiet the country is, especially at night. I sat on the porch with my wife several times and just listened to the crickets and the locusts and the God-knows-what conduct their nightly serenade. It’s always a very relaxing time. Nature knows how to sing us to sleep each night and help us to forget about how hard life can be. I miss that.

I live in the suburbs, but I still don’t get the complete silence at night. I hear the constant buzz of traffic and electric lights and transformers and people upstairs watching porn, you know, all the stuff the suburbs has to offer.

I also forgot about how many stars you can see in the country. Once you get away from the light pollution of the big city, the sky really opens up with all its beauty.Okay, honestly, I never got out to see the stars because I was in bed early most nights – the country will really take it out of you — but still.

I enjoy the sunsets around my house and on some clear, crisp nights, you might even be able to make out the faint shadow of the Milky Way. But mostly in the city, you see inky blackness with the faint echo shine of the lights on the ground.

In high school, I remember looking up and seeing the stars and I probably took them for granted. I guess I shouldn’t have done that. If scientists who study stars and space and Uranus had grown up in the city where they didn’t see any stars, we may have never known anything about anything outside our earthly home. We wouldn’t care. I’m glad we have scientist and the country and stars and the Milky Way, especially the candy bar.

I forgot about the absence of stuff. I can drive up the road from my house and I see stuff for miles around. I see strip malls, and retail shops and fast food and lights and billboards and just a bunch of junk. It all runs together so much that I probably don’t even notice most of it any more. I still drive by things every day and see something new because I couldn’t see it before either because I wasn’t paying attention or because of all the clutter.

The country is conveniently free of strip malls and billboards and bright lights and clutter. You see the ubiquitous fence, the occasional cattle guard, the evergreens, the scrub brush and cows, lots of cows. That is all. Cows don’t need strip malls. Cowboys don’t need strip malls. Heck, most of us could probably get away with a few less nail salons and donut shops that seem to frequent every new strip mall.

I miss those things about the country.

But I’m not about to give up my Starbucks or my neighbor’s porn collection. So I guess I’ll just stay in the suburbs.

Dang it.

Life:Found — It All Started Here


(This post was originally published in May 2011. Enjoy reading it again, I hope).


On July 20, 1985, Mel Fisher was sitting in his office in Key West, Fla. He was probably contemplating a tuna sandwich for lunch while he poured over charts of the waters around the Florida Keys.

The radio crackled.

“Unit 1, this is Unit 11.”

Fisher picked up the other end, expecting another ho-hum status report.
“Put away the charts,” the voice on the other end said. “We have found the Mother Lode.”

The voice on the other end was Mel Fisher’s son, Kane. The “Mother Lode” was the bulk of the treasure from the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha. It had been lost at sea, along with its sister ship, since 1622.

The find ended 15 years of searching for the lost treasure, but it was only like a day to Mel Fisher. The find brought home gold and silver, precious jewels, even 350-year-old seeds, which later sprouted. All told, the treasure was worth more than $400 million, the largest find of its kind since King Tut’s tomb was discovered in the 1930s.

Mel Fisher found his treasure. He became a legend.

dead end jobA couple of years ago, my life was sort of turned upside down. After nearly a decade of dead-end jobs came to a close, it was time to re-evaluate my life.

For those of you who might not be able to figure out, I grew up with a strange sense of humor. I was always the kid making my relatives and friends laugh.

I really discovered my “talent” — for lack of a better term — when I was in fourth grade.
My friends and I were putting on a fake wrestling show in one of the classrooms — this event was sanctioned by the teacher for reasons I don’t now remember. During the show, I really hammed it up. I guess I was good at fake wrestling because every Saturday night for as long as I can remember, I sat in front of the television watching wrestling live from the Sportatorium in Dallas. I learned from the great Von Erichs how to wrestle with the best of them. I faked it pretty good that day and the whole class broke out in side-splitting laughter (at least the way I remember it).

Something got in my blood that day. I realized that I could, with very little effort, make a whole bunch of people around me happy for at least a moment by making them laugh. I couldn’t get enough.

My teachers, unfortunately, got quite enough. Especially Mrs. Blount, my seventh grade reading teacher. I’m probably the only student in her career who received a U-minus-minus in citizenship on my report card.

The zaniness continued into high school, where I was voted Class Cut-up and Mostly
Likely to Succeed all in the same year.


When I left college and got my first real job, I continued to be the class clown. But now, instead of being encouraged by my peers, I was getting shut down by my superiors.

06-serious“You have to learn to control that,” they would tell me on a fairly regular basis. “You have to know when to be serious.”

I believed them.

Then 2006 came along. I was replaced at a job that I sort of enjoyed doing. I was able to play and have fun and laugh and make money at the same time. It was great. For a while.
When the end came, I was bitter, sad, angry and didn’t much feel like laughing. The bitterness and anger probably went on for about a year.

But it wasn’t long before I had enough. I need a change. Everything in my life was going really well, but I needed an attitude adjustment.

I gave myself one.

As I sat in a Wal-Mart parking lot, I decided to change and go back to my childhood. I decided to have fun again. I decided to make people laugh. I decided to laugh myself.
It wasn’t right to “learn” when to be serious and not be serious. There is a time for everything, sure, but most of the time, I am geared to have a good time.

It changed my life.

As I read the story of Mel Fisher and how he searched for years for a treasure that he knew was out there, it reminded me of my own life and how I had searched for nearly 10 years for my life, which I knew was out there.

I finally found it. The changes brought about have been significant. I choose happiness. I look for the good in most situations. I make better decisions when it comes to my health (I discovered that red wine is better for you than beer).

you are hereI have life:found.

Like Mel Fisher, who sat up a museum in Key West for people to walk through and see the treasures he found lying at the bottom of the ocean, I want to share some of the things I learned.

But I have something else in common with Mel Fisher. If he were still alive, he could draw you a map to the treasure he found. But it wouldn’t do you much good, because his treasure has already been discovered. You would need a new map to a different treasure, your treasure.

I’m unable to provide you the same map I used to find my new life (or my old life:found), but at least I can show you the map and maybe it will spark something in some of you.

So, over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing some things I’ve learned over the past few years. I might even update my blog a little bit more with stories, ideas, tips, success stories, etc.
Lincoln Brewster-Today

One of Mel Fisher’s favorite sayings was, “Today is the day.” Each day he believed that would be the day he would find his treasure.

So, now I will echo the words of Fisher and tell you, “Today is the day.” You life is out there somewhere, waiting to be found by only you.

Now, I have some old-school wrestling to watch on my VCR. I’m trying to perfect the Iron Claw.