Smiles are contagious; smile and the world smiles with you. We've all heard that before and we all recognize a smile when we see one, but how do you describe one? I decided to see how the dictionary defined a smile.

"To have or taken on a facial expression showing pleasure, amusement, affection, friendship, etc., and characterized by the upward curving of corners of the mouth and a sparkling of the eyes."

I always smile when I see the "cop car" in Ellis; it is painted black and white -- a reminder of how police cars looked years ago. That's when I started to make a list of things that make me smile.

First on the list is pictures of my precious great-grandchildren. They make my heart smile, as all my grandchildren have done for years.

My blank checks have big smiley faces on them, which often brings a smile and comment from the check-out girl. I use smile stickers or draw my own smiley faces to show my pleasure, thanks, appreciation or love on my correspondence.

Last month, when I had a pedicure at the Hays Academy of Hair Design, I watched Dorothy have her toenails painted bright green for St. Pat's day. We all had a big laugh and were smiling; it was such a fun thing. I told her I'd use it in a story; she said OK.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious always brings a smile to anyone who sings it. At the Washington Elementary School spring program, the students and audience all were smiling. What fun hearing songs from years past taken from movies, TV, Mickey Mouse Club and Mary Poppins.

At the laundrymat, I watched a youngster just learning to walk. He would start out, but he tried to go faster than his little legs could go and down he went, knees first, then his bottom. He turned over, put his hands on the floor and up he was again. He was smiling the entire time.

At Easter time, I ordered the cutest stress balls. They were the size and shape of an egg with a cute smile and thatch of yarn hair on top. No matter which way you squeezed or pulled it, it always smiled. I really had fun sharing these smiling eggs.

Miniature things always make me smile. The cute cereal, crackers and cookie-shaped animals are fun to find in a tasty snack mix.

I find smiling makes me feel good, filled with joy, especially when others smile in return. I believe you're never fully dressed in the morning until you put on a smile.

I heard a line in a country song that said it best: "The nearest thing to heaven is the sunshine in a smile." When someone smiles and their eyes sparkle, you have received a gift. The greatest gift we can bestow to others is a good example. Don't just talk about it. Do it. Smile.

Opal Flinn is a member of the Generations Advisory Group.