Ashley - Olympia, Washington
Entered on January 19, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe a smile can evoke happiness.

A smile says a thousand words; a smile can change a person’s day. In a nation where more and more people are depressed and angry with the world, a smile is not something we see that often. If people were to smile at one stranger per day, it would make a difference.

Throughout our childhood years, my sister tried constantly to teach me important life lessons. While much of the time those lessons didn’t turn out exactly how she intended, in the course of “teaching” me, she became my idol and role model.

It doesn’t take much for a five-year-old to look up to her bigger and cooler older sister, yet there was something about my sister Molly that really made me admire her. Everywhere she went, she had this radiating smile that attracted people no matter where we were. People were drawn to her; her happiness and shining smile emitted something that everyone seemed to want.

From a very young age, Molly had an extraordinary gift. I vividly remember a day when our family took a day trip to Canon Beach, Oregon, in mid-November to visit family. When we arrived at my aunt’s house, my cousins ran out of the house to greet us. Before we could even unbuckle our seatbelts, they told us that our aunt’s best friend had committed suicide earlier in the week. There was nothing they could do to get our aunt to come out of her room. Without wasting a second, my sister quietly unbuckled her seatbelt and casually got out of the car. I watched, in amazement as my eight-year-old sister walked up the front porch steps and into the house, with neither my parents, nor my cousins running after her. Curious as to what was going on, I followed my sister through the familiar apple-cinnamon aroma that gracefully flowed out of the open door. As I walked around the corner towards my aunt’s bedroom, I stopped and caught a glimpse of my sister and her magical charm.

There was my aunt, sobbing uncontrollably into the comforter and my sister, sitting by her side holding her hand. Something must have caught my aunt’s attention, for out of nowhere she looked up into Molly’s apple green eyes and stared. With my aunt’s blood-shot eyes locked on hers, Molly smiled. Not for a few seconds, but for minutes; she didn’t let my aunt’s gaze drop from hers. I can’t tell you if it was just the love that flowed out of my sister that afternoon or her sunshine smile that touched my aunt. Whatever it was, my sister made my aunt happy. A smile, cautiously at first, spread across my aunt’s face. While it would be a long time until she was her true happy self again, that day, for those few minutes, she was happy.

Smiling can light up someone’s life, even when darkness surrounds them. From all of those failed life lesson attempts, this will be one thing I will never forget. In her simple way she showed me a smile is such a simple thing, but the gratification that it brings evokes happiness in even the direst situations. That is why I smile every day. I want to change the world, and a smile is the quickest and most gratifying way to do so. That is why I believe a smile makes people happy. It’s a simple gesture, but it’s contagious and has the ability to alter a person’s life