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I was waiting at my bank’s drive-through lane when another driver rolled down his window and yelled to the car in front, “What are you applying for a mortgage or something?” He yelled loud and with great emotion. He was mad, and it was really funny. Watching him made my wait enjoyable.

This bank transaction got me thinking – we all feel annoyed or bothered at some time, but many people travel a bit further on the you’re-ticking-me-off scale. They feel irate. Their jaw tightens if the car in front doesn’t turn on red.

They scream at the referee in their kid’s soccer game. For an assortment of reasons, things set them off and their anger spikes, and then lasts and lasts.

That doesn’t happen to me – pretty much ever. There are even times when I think people in my office are annoyed that I’m not getting angrier than I appear. And sometimes I wonder if maybe I should get a little more heated about things. There are injustices in the world that are worthy of fury. I recognize the injustice; I just don’t feel the fury.

This certainly isn’t how my grandmother taught me to live. She was angry every time she took me with her to walk the picket lines in Philadelphia. What we protested I never understood. I was about 8. She was about 60. I got to wear the fake fur coat she had given me because we’d be in the cold for so long, so joining the angry circle in those days was fun.

Today, however, I’m just not angry. I may get annoyed, but I never boil. I may feel troubled or stressed or concerned, but never furious. I’m starting to think the reason I’m not angry is all the years of kissing.

For about 15 consecutive years, I had three people (sometimes four if the mood was right) who kissed me freely, happily and often. Every day before breakfast, I would have a handful of kisses and some hugs thrown in, and theday was just getting started. Sometimes I was kissed on the hand like a princess. Sometimes I was kissed amidst cries of “Mommy, don’t go.” I was kissed on the nose, forehead, knee or elbow. Usually I was kissed for no reason at all.

I don’t think I appreciated it at the time. But now that the kissing has died down, I understand the benefits. Now that kisses from my daughters are on the cheek and clearly out of obligation, I appreciate the years when they flowed freely.

All of that unconditional love coming right back at you is a rare treasure. It’s harder to see as the years pass, but when it’s right smack in front of you – planted right smack on your face with much excitement – that’s enough to change how you see the world.

My children have given me simple joy. That’s what it is, and it has transformed me. It helps me see the world and all its wrongs, but not let it really get to me. You have to admit, it’s a good way to live. Simple joy squashes the fury and eases the anger.

So who knew all that kissing would have such a powerful impact, that a simple, soft touch could make a lasting mark? I miss all the kissing, but I’m thankful for the joy. Next time a guy applies for a mortgage in the drive-through line, I’ll remember why I’m smiling. If a teenager is sitting next to me, I may even lean over and give her a kiss. She won’t like it, but when she’s older and wondering why she’s pretty happy, she just might remember all the kissing.

February 2015
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