Are you hiding behind a mask?

Photo courtesy of Bunches and Bits {Karina} (Creative Commons)

Happy Halloween everyone! What does your costume look like?

I have to admit that Halloween is one of my least favorite holidays, mostly because I’m not good at coming up with costume ideas. But I do find it interesting because so many people hide behind their masks. Have you noticed how many timid people dress up as a superhero and become bold and brave for the day?

Could there be benefits to wearing a mask, figuratively speaking?

When I managed a bookstore, we adopted the ideas of “Be our Guest” from Disney, and focused on creating a positive “guest experience” for each of our guests (customers). There were days when that meant putting on the “mask” of the great salesperson even when I was tired or overloaded.

My friend Matt McWilliams wrote a post this week about The Happiness-Success Paradox in which he suggests that if you “proactively choose happiness,” you will be on the road to success.

So at his challenge, I have tried to “choose happiness” this week, and basically put on a “mask” of cheerfulness. I admit I’ve had mixed results.

It’s been a difficult, frustrating week for me, but I am trying to remain upbeat. One thing I am more conscious of is stopping when I find myself sinking into negative thoughts or making a negative comment. Awareness is half the battle, right?

What I have discovered is that while I can’t claim that I’m gleeful this week, I am at least more outwardly focused, and that is leading to contentment.

I have smiled at people, even in the midst of a mental rant over something that just happened. They might be struggling with greater hardships than I can imagine, and it flips a switch for me to smile at someone else – kind of turns the focus away from me long enough to reset the glare or frown I had before. See, the mask has its advantages.

I’ve made a conscious effort to write encouraging comments for friends on Facebook or in email. I know how uplifting it is when people reach out to me, so I’m returning the favor when I can.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1.3-4 (NLT)

There seems to be such hardship and sadness this week – from Hurricane Sandy, to illness, to disappointments, to grief. I want to be at least a small comfort to others who are going through so much, instead of dwelling on me, whether that is through a smile, a kind word, or a note that I’m thinking of and praying for them. I guess the mask helps me as much as anyone else.

So I challenge you today. What mask will you put on?

2 thoughts on “Are you hiding behind a mask?

  1. Carol,

    I actually believe that “fake it until you make it” is often valuable. Just because you feel a certain way doesn’t mean that everyone has to suffer.

    Of course, this does not apply to those closest to you. You need to be open with them.

    At least as far as it impacts the other person (I’ve written this elsewhere):

    A fake smile is better than a real scowl.
    A stiff ‘thank you’ is better than being feeling unappreciated.
    A belated birthday card is better than none at all.
    An open door is better than a closed one.

    And so on…

    I’m not suggesting to go through life wearing a mask, but even Jesus said when you are fasting to put oil on your head and not appear to be fasting. In other words, wear a mask (sort of).

    Just because I didn’t get enough sleep doesn’t mean I can’t smile and wave and give a firm handshake.

    Most of our troubles are minor. If there is a death in the family, that is one thing. But finding out that the cable company raised your rates 10% or your pinkie is sore might require you to wear a mask.

    • You are so right, Matt – most of our problems are minor and taking them out on others doesn’t help anyone. Obviously, if it’s something major, it’s not healthy to hide that from family and close friends. I’m finding that my problems seem to fade when I make an effort to “mask” them. Thanks for the great comment!

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