Sometimes being a reporter means I'm invited to witness a small part of someone's personal life.

Oftentimes when I go, people don't know how to respond when I check off the basics of reporting -- the who, what, where, when, how and sometimes why. Especially that last one.

Why can be a hard question to answer in a lot of scenarios. But I like to wait with my notebook and pen in hand, while I watch people taking the time to think about their answers.

After all, I like putting thought into my articles, and that's easier to do when people put thought into their responses.

Sometimes, I even like to implement their thoughts into my everyday life.

When you go out to countless assignments and meet all sorts of people from all sorts of backgrounds and witness parts of their personal lives you learn a lot.

Tuesday was a perfect example.

I was invited to Barbara Baker's home in Berea, where her friends -- Jenny Dobbs and Tennant Kirk -- surprised her for her 70th birthday, with the help from the owners of McCarthy Farm Rescue and three miniature donkeys.

Jenny planned the surprise because the two couldn't go out and celebrate like they normally do in light of the coronavirus pandemic

As Jenny was helping to prepare the surprise, Tennant was standing by, and I asked her why she wanted to take part in Barbara's birthday surprise after learning the two have been friends for more than 40 years.

Her response, I think, is something we can all learn from: "A laugh and a smile can help alleviate those negative consequences of stress."

She's right -- lots of evidence supports the idea of laughter reducing pain and blood sugar, improving our moods, helping us deal with discomfort and so much more.

Along that line of thinking; could you imagine what the world would be like if we all took the time in our daily lives to keep that in mind? -- if we all approached our friends, neighbors and colleagues bearing that thought?

I think the world would be a better place.

Too often, we rush through life in the hustle and bustle of our society. I know I'm guilty of it. Being in the news business, it's easy to get caught up in the rush of things.

But by being in the news business, I've seen a lot of professionals talking about stress, depression, anxiety and the other feelings we may be experiencing in light of the pandemic -- feelings that are often invisible to others.

And I agree, the coronavirus has made us feel a lot of stress, but America was stressed before the pandemic, too. Those invisible feelings have been around for a while.

But none of it is an excuse for us to not think about others. It's not a reason to focus on the negatives.

If anything, it's a bigger reason for us to try harder to find ways to bring more laughter and smiles into our world. We rarely know what people are dealing with internally on any given day -- with or without a global pandemic happening -- but I do know laughter and smiles definitely help alleviate those kinds of negative feelings.

After all, I saw the smile Barbara's friends put on her face. It may have been the biggest smile I've ever witnessed.

In turn, I couldn't help but smile. Nor could I help but to share the photos I took of the miniature ponies with my friends in an effort to brighten their day, too.

So to Jenny and Tennant, to the owners of McConathy Farm, and to Barbara, thank you for inviting me to be a part of your personal lives Tuesday afternoon.

I hope you share many more laughs and smiles together in the future.

Reach Sara Kuhl at 624-6626; follow her on Twitter @saraekuhl.

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