This I Believe

Natalie - Austin, Texas
Entered on January 10, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in smiling. Not the forced, fake smiling that is evident in far too many long forgotten photographs, but genuinely smiling from ear to ear; teeth fully exposed and gleaming.

The world has lost the “twinkle” in its eye and has begun to frown. Permanently. It has grown dark, desolate, and depressed.

People have become angry souls. On every street corner, in every office, and amidst every home, heads are tucked, brows pulsate in fury, and scowls growl on in endless response. It is the posture of a grieving, pathetic substance.

Far too often people return home in silence, lost in everlasting whims of pessimistic thought. The generated anger is reciprocated throughout the population. Shared among friends and neighbors, the general sense of negativity catches on like a plague. Uproars crescendo to unimaginable decibels; people become put-off, cold, and snappy. Frustration morphs into shouting as loathing swirls around, encompassing the inflicted. All becomes a living hell until, amid the chaos and self-destruction, the “other” face begins to grin.

Subtly, at first; and then, more distinct; until it radiates an angelic glow of kindness.

A simple smile can obliterate all grief. It is impossible to remain in a state of angry disposition when confronted with the pleasantness of a smile. And sometimes, that is just what one needs. After all, the greatest remedy for sadness is a good, hearty laugh.

I have a weekend job as a cashier at a local fast-food chain restaurant. Never have I experienced such an array of personality. It’s fascinating, the amount of people that enter in such a stupor of irritation and rage pent up from the day’s happenings, and all fail to check their attitude at the door. I have been yelled at, spit at, and cussed at, regardless of whether it was fueled by an unsatisfactory meal or by my simplistic, monotonous motions which remain entirely too slow for their rushed schedule to allow. It was a hard blow at first. I did not understand why I was to blame, nor do I to this day. But I have learned, after months of observation and experimentation that a smile never fails. It may not stop the full-frontal assault completely, but a slight hesitation always occurs. The simple gesture lightens the mood and shows another aspect of life, one that isn’t so terrible or vengeful, but rather the contrary. Kind and caring.

I have transferred this gesture to other aspects of my life, as well. I smile as much as is appropriately allowed. I suppose you could say I’ve become the stereotypical “happy-go-lucky” kid. But when I’m in that state, I feel so much better about everything and I can tell it affects others around me with a positive notion as well.

Ultimately, it is because of all the times my smile has cured someone else’s cynicism that I believe any smile, however slight, can make all the difference in the world.