This I Believe

Sean - Waltham, Massachusetts
Entered on December 15, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

The power of smiling

I believe in the power of smiling. No matter how my day begins, I always have my smile to assure me that today is a great day to be alive.

I worked for almost two years in Whole Foods Market, and I noticed that some customers never smiled. They came in with angry faces and bad humor. I wanted to ask them: Why don’t you smile back? How hard is to it smile?

If you don’t smile it looks like you are grieving, but smiling is one of the easiest things to do. You don’t need money for it, don’t need to lift anything and you don’t need to go anywhere. All you need to do is smile.

As a little girl, smiling didn’t come easy for me. My father was a tough parent with a strong personality. In Brazil, men in general are very “macho”. They like to give orders. In a certain way, my sibling and I were like little soldiers following orders. We did as my father wished to make him happy. When he came home, he didn’t want to hear noise. We had to be very quiet. My father believed that men shouldn’t smile. Every day at the dinner table he to remind us by saying that “real men don’t smile. If you smile, you’re weak. A man has to be tough.” This whole attitude really affected my life, and as the oldest child I wanted to follow in his shoes. Listening to this conversation over and over always made me think that if I smiled I’d show people my weakness.

Five years ago I met someone and after a few days he asked me to see my photo album. He opened it and began studying each picture. He passed each page very quickly, and I first thought he was looking for pictures of old boyfriends, my parents, or my siblings. I was a little scared with his behavior. I asked him, “What are you looking for? Is something wrong? Are you looking for pictures of old boyfriends?” Then he asked me “Why don’t you ever smile?” This man tried everything he could think of to make me smile. He took me to funny movies, told me jokes and tried to make me happy. Yes, I married him. From him I learned to smile even when I’m not happy, even when bad things happen, and smiling helps me feel better.

Now, smiling is like a healing process. It took a long time to smile, and I felt like I had missed something important in my life. The act of smiling is wonderful, and now I smile to strangers all day. I’m sure some people think I’m out of my mind. But I just keep smiling even more. Sometimes what we need is just a smile, because life is very short we should enjoy every moment. We should smile, to tellers at the bank, to the cashiers at grocery stores, to the mail man. Because sometimes we just need a smile to remind us that everything is going to be fine. Everyone deserves a smile.