Pathways – A Smile Makes the World a Brighter Place

Have you ever wondered why the world becomes brighter when you smile? Or when you meet
someone whose smile lights up your life…for that fleeting second? What is it that changes when
we smile? Is there ever a smile more joyous then when a baby first smiles? It doesn’t matter
whether it’s rainy, foggy, snowing or whatever. They just smile because they must.

My daughter, Darlene, had a gorgeous smile. Many a young man tumbled over backwards for
that smile. Her eyes sparkled, her whole demeanor changed when she smiled. It told everyone
she came in contact with that they were special. And that smile took her places we mortals only
dream about – her work as a Corporate Travel Consultant took her to beautiful cities all over the
world. She smiled often, even through pain, and I’m told she had a beatific smile when she left
earth’s plane.

I remember my step-mother often reminding me to smile. “Smile Joan,” she would scold. “You
are beautiful when you smile.” I really never felt I had much to smile about. And I certainly
didn’t feel beautiful. However, I would say she taught me to smile. And, often when the going
gets tough, I hear her Still Small Voice saying -“Smile Joan, You are beautiful when you smile.”
What a legacy she left me! I’m not sure when I became aware a smile could change how I felt
about myself. It’s just important that I allowed my instinct to prevail.

Research has shown that smiling and laughing cause physiological changes in your body.
“When a person has a true, heartfelt smile, it does more than put her in touch with her own inner
joy,” says Doe Lang, PhD, a New York psychotherapist who specializes in nonverbal
communication. “There’s a reduction in cortisol, a chemical that indicates stress in the body,
and an increase in mood-elevating endorphins. On a social level, an honest smile defuses
hostility and draws people near you.”

What about a ‘fake’ smile? I’ve learned if you put on a happy face, your body, either not
knowing the difference or hoping for the best, responds as if the expression is genuine. Smile
and you engage at least three major muscle groups. It increases blood flow to the face and helps
create a rosy glow. Laugh and it tones your facial muscles. Want to appear younger? Put a smile
on your face and you will reap benefits no makeup can give you. Even a delicate smile moistens
your eyes. It simulated the muscles around the tear glands, making your eyes brighter. They
actually sparkle. As you smile (the curve that sets thing right) you raise your cheeks rounding out
your face and softening it. And, the increased blood flow nourishes your skin.

How often have you faked a smile – when something was challenging you and anger or
frustration was your first reaction – but you forced a smile anyway? Or, have you ever suppressed
a smile, like maybe you really want to feel ‘yucky’ for just a while longer? We do these silly
things to ourselves. “Nope, I’m not smiling today! I’m just going to be ugly and who cares
anyway!” Try smiling just for the heck of it. You will feel better, younger, more vibrant. Wow!!
Maybe that’s why I smile once in awhile – fake or otherwise. It makes me look and feel younger.
Vanity? YES! Bonus? Definitely!!

Jeepers, I’ll never fathom life and all it’s mysteries. But isn’t Life Great? ‘Til next time this is
Joan…A merry heart doeth good like a medicine (Proverbs 17:22).

Joan Brooks makes her home in Wawa, Ontario. Comments are always welcome and can be made through email:
[email protected], telephone 856-0652 or by writing to Box 682, Wawa, On P0S 1K0