A happy heart makes the face cheerful . . . ― Proverbs 15:13

When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them. ― Job 29:34

What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable. ― Joseph Addison

When in doubt, smile. ― Gary Rudz



Dear Munchkins,

It’s interesting how some of the most uplifting songs were written during the most depressing times. That’s certainly the case with “When You’re Smiling,” written by Larry Shay, Mark Fisher, and Joe Goodwin in 1928, just before the start of the Great Depression.

The most memorable lyric in the song is, “When you’re smiling, when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles at you.” The song has been recorded by everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Louis Armstrong to Michael Buble’, and has been used in numerous movies and television shows and even been used to sell beer.

There is something about smiling that does us and the world we live in a lot of good. Not that you need me to sell you on it, but I want to mention the benefits of smiling.  In no order of importance, they are:

*Smiling is associated with longer life

*Smiling helps you to stay positive

*Smiling can decrease stress

*Smiling makes you more attractive, youthful

*Smiling can elevate your mood

*Smiling reduces pain

*Smiling boosts your immune system

An expression Pop heard growing up was “Turn that frown upside down,” something I needed to hear because I was prone to frowning. That was, and is, great advice. 

I’m not suggesting that you never frown or allow your face to be sad, I’m just saying that, whenever possible, try to go from a frown to a smile in the face of life’s vicissitudes. As Genki Kawamura put it, “It’s a little magic trick you can play on yourself. Whenever you feel sad and lonely, just smile and close your eyes. Do it as many times as you have to.”

Not only is smiling life-enhancing for you, but it leaves the world better off. 

Mother Teresa said, “Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” Finally, Thich Nhat Hanh noted, “Smiling is a kind of mouth yoga. When we smile, it releases the tension in our face. Others notice it, even strangers, and are likely to smile back. By smiling, we initiate a wonderful chain reaction, touching the joy in anyone we encounter. A smile is an ambassador of goodwill.”

You munchkins laugh a lot, but I’m not sure how often you smile. I want to encourage to smile a lot more, even if it is an act of will on your part. 

When Pop tells you “No,” I want you to turn that frown upside down and respond with a huge smile, a smile that acknowledges that Pop was looking out for you to not indulge your every wish and whim. Caroline Carr observed, “Decide to smile and keep upbeat. A scowling, bad-tempered face is far less attractive than a smiling, accepting one.”

While we’re talking about how a smile makes you more attractive, let me encourage you to follow Khalid Masood’s advice, “Smile, it’s free makeup.” I hadn’t ever thought of it that way, but we’re saving ourselves a lot money when we let a smile be makeup in life. We could probably put all the cosmetic companies out of business if we just smiled more.

The world we live in needs us to smile more. 

So many people walk around with perpetual frowns and scowls on their face. Not only does the world notice, but they tend to return the same look back. Abhijit Naskar said, “A smile has no nationality, yet, with it, you can speak to people from all nationalities.” The Dalai Lama noted, A simple smile. That’s the start of opening your heart and being compassionate to others.”

As you try to smile more, make sure you do it with those you are the closest to. 

There’s certainly nothing wrong with smiling at strangers, but smile the most often at those who are in your inner circle. Maya Angelou wisely observed, If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don’t be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning ‘Good morning’ at total strangers.”

A final thought. Try to make sure your smiles are as genuine as possible. 

Disingenuous smiles or those that mask darker, more sinister motives are not welcome on the planet. If you feel that you don’t have a legitimate reason to smile, remind yourself of all the blessings you have in life. All your blessings are more than enough reason to smile more often.

You munchkins make me smile. Your energy, funny observations, interests, and way of reacting to life constantly put a smile on my face. Thank you for that. I hope how Pop interacts with you puts a smile on your face as well.

As Thich Nhat Hanh noted, smiling is a form of “mouth yoga” that leaves us and the world we live in a lot better off. Use each and every day to use smiling to turn that frown upside down and become a healthier person who helps the world be a healthier place.