There is usually a story behind every smile. Last weekend we accompanied my son and his fiance to the Kansas City Royals baseball game. Now we've been to many Royals games over the years because we are avid fans. The Royals went to the World Series last fall and the fan base hasn't stopped buzzing (or smiling) since. It was a bobble head night... something my husband and my son collect... so the crowd arrived early hoping to get one of those coveted souvenirs. We also arrived early but not to stand in line for a bobble head, but to go on the field for batting practice and have a personal meet and greet with Royals players. You see my son won the grand prize for a Royals trivia contest on Twitter during the winter and this was his reward for being randomly selected out of the many correct answers. And along with his fiance, he picked his parents to go with him! Now that was something else to smile about! I asked my son's fiance when she took the picture of Alex and me if she got me smiling and she said, "You never stopped smiling!" Yes, that was the smile of pure joy from the inside out!
I've been doing a lot of smiling lately it seems. As my son's wedding gets closer, I have looked through many photo possibilities for the slide show that will be shown during the wedding festivities. I can't count how many smiles those pictures generated as I remembered times gone by and how happy they are together today. No one else saw my smiles, but I definitely felt them. Smiling is an outward expression of joy and happiness. I know there will be many more smiles to come.... because my heart is full.
Our grandsons were at the house earlier this week for an impromptu sleep over. During a rousing game of "Go Fish," my youngest grandson (who is almost 5) smiled and giggled with delight as he would take a card from me or his older brother, especially after realizing we had just asked for that card but obviously didn't ask him. He was proud of himself (and at the moment was winning too)! His broad smile resonated from the success he felt of being an independent player in this game. Sometimes our joy is a reflection of the satisfaction of a job well-done.
Smiling is the preferred facial expression and generally makes us look our best. My mother used to advise us "that it took 7 times as many muscles to frown as to smile." I'm pretty sure the math is not accurate in that old saying, but we got the message! (Here's an interesting link on that subject.) While we may naturally assume that smiling indicates happiness and joy, there are often other underlying reasons and thoughts behind a smile. It takes the rest of the face, including the eyes, and the body language we convey to really see what that smile is expressing.
I know I often smile or giggle when I am nervous. We smile for pictures and sometimes those smiles betray our discomfort. We call them "forced or fake" smiles. Smiles can mask our apprehension or nervousness too. Even those who are feeling down often smile in an attempt to cover up their true feelings. These smiles differ from the joyful ones that come from within, but they still reveal a great deal about what we are thinking and feeling.
But mostly smiles are positive experiences. What might be the effect of our smile? Smiling makes others feel at ease. It can be our first line of communication; a way to break the ice. A smile costs us nothing and is an easy gift we can give to others no matter whether they are friend or stranger. The benefits of a smile linger long after it is given and received. Even our electronic communication has smiley faces and other ways to communicate our feelings since we are not directly looking at each other. Words are often not enough. We need to "see" or "hear" what others are really saying to get the true picture. When it comes down to it, it is our choice on how we present ourselves to the world we live in. Mother Teresa shares this advice:
Let us always meet each other with a smile,
for the smile is the beginning of love.
A smile is a beginning, not just a response. It connects us and offers the other acceptance, hope, promise, and maybe even love. The first glimpse of a newborn results in the smile of love from adoring parents. Our joy, stored safely in our heart, escapes through our smile and is warmed by the smile or hug that follows between friends or family. There are times we just don't feel like smiling because of pain, humiliation, or anger, but when we pause to find something to smile about, it is the beginning of moving past that issue or emotional distress.
Sometimes smiles and tears occur at the same time. All week we have been appreciating teachers and nurses with social media posts, cards, gifts, and other things that we hope will make them smile. When we show others how much we value them and care, we touch their heart, just as they have touched ours. Mother's Day is Sunday. 65 million cards are given to mothers to show our love and appreciation. That will generate a lot of smiles and a few tears too. Acts of kindness and appreciation touch us in ways that we can't help but smile, even amidst the tears that may also follow. I expect that same thing to happen later this month as I watch my son marry his one true love. Smiles and tears overflowing from the inside out.
So I challenge you to find something to smile about every day and to offer your smile freely to others. Let your smile be the sunshine for yourself and others! See how choosing to smile changes you. Find your joy. Find your passion. Smile as often as you can from the inside out.