The Power of a Smile

Patrick - Cupertino, California
Entered on June 20, 2012
Age Group: Under 18

I have always been a smiley person. I never really understood why I smiled, I just did. As this last school year ended, one of my friends asked me “Why are you always so smiley?” and that is when I began to actually think about why was I always smiling.

When I was in elementary school, my dad always told me that in life the most important quality to possess was EQ, emotional quotient. He believed that this ability to connect with people was even more important than being book smart, and that the best way to build that connection was with a smile. That day I thought my dad was crazy telling me that something was greater than IQ, seeing as how I spent most of my childhood in school to attain it. But now, even at age 16, I already see how right he actually was.

In the summer of 2010, I went back to China to visit all of my relatives for my grandmother’s 80th birthday. The only problem was that although I am Chinese, my relatives were from the Sichuan province where their dialect made it seem like they were not even speaking Mandarin. I tried to learn key phrases like “You look good today” or “Where is the bathroom?”, but I could never remember it.

Suddenly, I’m sitting at my grandma’s birthday party with over 100 guests, but I couldn’t communicate with a single one of them. It is there I realized that people can connect with each other without even saying a word. Even though I was unable to have a full conversation with any of my relatives, they just smiled at me and I would smile back and we instantly connected. It was like I knew what they were thinking without them saying anything.

A week after I came back from China was the first day of school. Since I’m not a naturally extroverted person, I had always been intimidated by the first day of school, especially because I was about to enter a journalism class where I didn’t know anyone. So I went to class every day with a smile and by the end of the year, some of my closest friends were made in that class. I was even renowned as the “smiley sophomore.” I found that my smile did all the talking for me.

My smile may not solve every problem, or touch the hearts and minds of everyone I meet, but it can help heal pain, stress, and fear and lift up the spirits of many, without my speaking a single word. A smile keeps my life in perspective and lets me move forward with a positive and determined spirit.

Now, when people ask me why I am so smiley, I simply say, “Why not?” and keep right on smiling.