A Smile Is Contagious

Kristen - Levant, Maine
Entered on October 20, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe in smiling. I walk into work everyday with a smile on my face. I walk into work everyday with a smile on my face because I know that smile will cause other smiles. A smile is contagious. In a smile you can say one thousand things to someone without having to say any actual words at all.

I walk into that skilled care unit everyday with a smile on my face. I do this no matter what is going on in my life, because a smile it something that everyone sees. My patients and co-workers do not care if my car is broken. They don’t care if I’m fighting with my boyfriend or if I got a bad grade on a paper. The only thing my patients are focused on is why they are in a nursing facility, or how my co-workers are going to take care of a particular patient. I believe that with that one gesture, they will feel safer in this unknown place.

A couple months ago, when I started my job, I met a C.N.A that never smiled. He was a great guy, very nice, very good with patients, but he never smiled. One day I asked him why he never smiled; I told him he looked like he hated the world. He looked at me and told me that he wasn’t happy; he didn’t feel that he should smile if he wasn’t happy. He felt that “fake smiling”, was worse that frowning. Fake smiling? What on earth is fake smiling? He proceeded to tell me that fake smiling occurs when you smile even if you’re unhappy. I laughed at him; I proceeded to show him what a smile does to unhappy patients. After questioning my methods he tried it himself. Now, he always has a smile on his face. Last time I saw him, he was laughing with one of his patients. When I asked him what was so funny, he simply smiled and told me it was nothing. I still wonder if he was laughing at me, but if he was, at least I finally gave him something to smile about.

The other day, I walked into my patient’s room. She was dying of cancer. She hadn’t eaten all day. She was weak, tired, and just wanted this nightmare she was living to be over. I greeted her, I got down at her level, and I had a conversation with her. During this conversation, I simply smiled. That’s all it took. She smiled back at me; she started talking more and became more alert. She still knew she was dying, but I truly believe that smile, that one little sign of happiness changed her entire day. When I left the room she was smiling back. After that, every time I walked in she smiled and said hi. She even ate some dinner that night.

The gift of a smile, however, does not have to be given just in a nursing facility. I smile at people everywhere I go. When I am walking down the halls at school, when I’m walking though the mall. I smile. I smile at complete strangers; people that I have never seen before in my life- people that I will probably never see again. I smile at my customers that come into subway. Even people that are extremely rude receive a smile from me. The way I see it; they are being rude for a reason. Maybe they are having a bad day, maybe their dog just died. So, with that smile, maybe their day will turn around.

However, it is important to pick your moments. There are some places, where a smile is inappropriate. These situations vary from person to person. Sometimes people just want to be upset. There are some people that are just going to be unhappy and by smiling you may be making their day worse. If I have a patient that is telling me about something that they are unhappy about, I am not going to stand there or sit there and smile back at them. Sometimes people just don’t want to be happy, it is important to know when to pick your moments.

When I smile, however, I feel better. I could be having the worst day in the world. With that smile, I can actually turn my day around. I can make my attitude better. With that smile, I know I can turn other people’s days around.