Monday, June 28, 2010

Why Not Smile?!

Is it natural to have a smile on your face? Some would say it isn't. It is probably more natural not to smile, given that most of the time we're probably in "neutral" and in a reflective or thoughtful mode, neither speaking nor expressing or showing feelings. Others would argue that life with its stress and daily put-downs actually makes it more natural to be grumpy and bad-tempered.

When was what's "natural" and/or "following the course of least resistance" best for us? I argue that up until this day (and I suspect forever and ever) I'll never find anything that came easy to be a source of lasting happiness. So it is with a smile. It may not be natural, but it sure feels so much better in the long run.

A Smile Works Both Ways

Of course, there needs to be something real behind a smile, otherwise it's an empty shell without meaning.

(A true smile cannot be faked!)

A smile is in reality the reflection of what's truly inside, but in my experience, sometimes it needs to be the other way around, too. Sometimes there's frustration and anger inside, but a smile will help overcome it. Here's a little poem in support of the idea:

If you can smile when things go wrong,
And say it doesn't matter,
If you can laugh off cares and woe,
And trouble makes you fatter,
If you can keep a cheerful face,
When all around are blue,
Then have your head examined, bud,
There's something wrong with you.
For one thing I've arrived at:
There are no ands and buts,
A guy that's grinning all the time
must be completely nuts.

(Boyd K. Packer)

Many years ago in college I had a teacher that taught me the value of a smile and how it's done. Yes, you heard me right, "a smile and how it's done". His point was simple; it's not the mouth that smiles, it's your entire face and body. If you have to force a smile, then at least make sure to also lift your eyebrows. It helps.

Boy! was he right. Do you want to know why I remember his little piece of advice? He was the happiest most inspiring teacher I ever had. His life and example simply made his words ring true to me.

An Unselfish Act of Kindness
All around us we find people that struggle with something. Some view a smile as a desparate attempt to keep the world at a distance. To me, a smile is the exact opposite. Smiling is a way to reach out to others. It's anything but a selfish act. It's welcoming others. It's surplus living. It's saying: I'm currently not carrying a load to burden you with, so I'm ready to share yours. A smile is a state of mind that's prepared to change into empathy. It's forgetting yourself.

A smile is encouraging others to look for the positive, a way to pass on positive energy. A sincere smile communicates a love for people and acceptance. Just like a frown can punish far beyond evil words, a smile can be worth more than a thousand (uplifting) words.

Main Reasons For a Smile
I've grown to appreciate a smile by becoming more aware of what its source may be:

Principle # 1: Moving In The Right Direction
Someone once encouraged me: By the time you're forty years old, make sure you're doing what you love doing (i.e. workwise). Even though it's good advice, would it not be better to always be doing what you sense inside is moving you in the right direction?

Indefinitely, I find that people who are headed towards a worthwhile goal, not taking detours or living in contradiction with their conscience, are indeed happier. They smile not because they have to, but because it's natural to do so.

I've also found that it's hard to be in the wrong place (moving in the wrong direction) when I'm helping someone. Offering unselfish service can be addictive, because it - more than anything else - will put a smile on your face, whether you want to or not.

Principle # 2: Keep smiling
No one feels like smiling all the time. And many times it would simply be wrong to be smiling. However, so many more times than we might think, it would be appropriate to bounce back with a smile rather than giving in to negativity and "murmuring". A year ago I shared the lyrics of a song entitled "Keep Trying" that expressed the same.

To me it just makes so much sense to smile more. Don't you think so, too?

1 comment: