Thich Nhat Hanh recently passed away. He has been a source of inspiration for me and my blog. He was a Buddhist Monk from Vietnam who advocated for peace across many platforms. I previously used his quote, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, and sometimes your smile is the source of your joy” in a prior blog  and it is the ideal way to set my theme to build on.

Recent research found that during the pandemic, many of us believe it is important to find things to smile about to stay positive and that seeing someone else looking happy improves our mood.  These days it’s important to stay self-confident, emotionally aware, and see the positives in everyday moments. We can accomplish that by sharing smiles.

To a stranger, or even an acquaintance, a smile can be the start of something wonderful. At a minimum it might be the bright point of their day. It gives a feeling of dignity and worth to others. If we keep smiling, others will smile back. Smile for our own good, smile for the good of others, and smile just because. Smiles are easy, remember the adage, “it takes 43 muscles to frown, and only 17 muscles to smile.” Plus, they cost nothing, so we can give them away as needed. Given how much a simple smile can help others, it’s almost criminal not to take the tiny effort and the second or two and smile at someone. Mother Teresa said, “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

There is nothing better that entering a room and seeing someone smile when we walk in. Right then and there we know that our presence makes a difference. Leo Buscaglia, also known as “Dr. Love”, stated, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

In addition, there is the feeling that smiling instills in us. Science has documented many times that smiling releases endorphins in the brain which make a difference in our overall mood. There are entire books written about the sociological importance of the smile and its biological and biochemical influence on our feelings and how our body works. Smiling often enough rewires our brain to follow a positive path. A smile and direct eye contact convey confidence born of self-respect. One of the companies I worked for had an outbound calling sales team where they installed a mirror extended off everyone’s computer monitor so they could see their smile as they were calling customers.

“Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened” is a quote attributed, debatably, to Dr. Seuss. Although it may be considered trite, it contains wisdom. We need to take a moment to smile in thanksgiving for all the wonderful things what we have, what we had, and all the positive experiences we’ve enjoyed. We will say goodbye, move on, or move away. We will lose friends, family members, even pets. We can lament that things have passed, or we can smile with the recollection of the good times we experienced – it is our choice.

Research found that adults in the US smile eleven times a day, amounting to a quarter of a million smiles over the course of our lifetime. However, eleven smiles a day is just one every 90 minutes we are awake. We are certainly capable of smiling more frequently. Like anything, the more we practice smiling, the easier it becomes. When we can, we need to keep smiling. Smiling is contagious!  A smile begets a smile.

There is also “smizing,” a term coined by Tyra Banks in 2009, that refers to smiling with your eyes. The scientific name for this smile is the Duchenne smile. It is a smile that reaches your eyes, making the corners wrinkle up with crow’s feet. It’s the smile we recognize as the most authentic expression of happiness. The more intense our smile, the more likely our eyes are to crinkle at the corners. With faces covered to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, some of the facial cues that people rely on to connect with others – such as a smile – are obscured. We need to learn to smile with our eyes and read the eyes of others.

The first stanza of the poem ‘Worth While’ by Ella Wheeler Wilcox is a poignant description of a smile’s power. I was recently introduced to this poem by a friend of mine. He was given the poem at 14 years of age, the day after his dad lost his battle with cancer. His mom left it by his bedside.

It is easy enough to be pleasant
When life flows by like a song;
But the man worthwhile
Is one who will smile
When everything goes dead wrong;
For the test of the heart is trouble,
And it always comes with years,
And the smile that is worth
The praises of earth,
Is the smile that shines through tears.

The Christian band, Sidewalk Prophets has the song, ‘Smile.’ An upbeat anthem to count our blessings and realize that God’s joy is always there for us on our best day, on our worst day, and every day in between. We can either wither away in fear and doubt, or we can go confidently knowing that with Christ, there is always a reason to smile.

Smile, when you think you can’t

Smile, get up and dance

Smile, there’s a bigger plan

The storm only lasts for a while

Most translations for the Bible do not contain the specific word, smile. However, there are numerous phrases where the essence of a smile is conveyed – most often in the Psalms and then surprisingly the Book of Job. However, my three most memorable scripture references, where I see the unwritten word smile are:

  • In Proverbs 15:30, “A cheerful glance brings joy to the heart; good news invigorates the bones.”
  • In Isaiah 60:5. “Then you shall see and be radiant, your heart shall throb and overflow. For the riches of the sea shall be poured out before you, the wealth of nations shall come to you.”
  • In James 1:2, “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials.” Like Job this is a frequent teaching derived from suffering. Life’s painful trials are not joyous in themselves, but when we walk through them, we should be filled with joy and smile.

When we trust Christ with the details of our life, we experience His life in wonderful excess, and it can’t help but give us reason to smile.

“Whenever I see your smiling face I have to smile myself, because I love you”

Scroll to Top