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Let’s Hear it for: Smiles!

April 23, 2021

Another Way for week of April 18, 2021

Let’s Hear it for: Smiles!

(Editor’s Note: Fifth in an eight-week series on “Let’s Hear It.”)

I’ve been practicing smiling like a woman I see at the pool where my husband and I work out. I find her smile contagious—just beaming at almost everything her small group of pool friends says or shares. Even when I can’t see or overhear what the other women are sharing (group of three), she smiles in empathy, encouragement, solidarity, companionship.

Long ago there as a woman at our church who was the same way. Her name was Kathryn Roller. She wore a smile that was almost endless. And she was just that kind of person: hopeful, helpful, always doing good for others. Her smile was infectious. Every time I thought of her then or even now (long since passed), I have to smile.

Mom never liked this photo if me because of the windblown hair but it was a professional photo taken at our home with a satisfactory smile. 🙂

I used to be embarrassed to smile. I’m one of those gappy front-teeth-spaced-apart persons, who never had opportunity for braces while young. Very few of us had braces in those days. They used to be reserved for either the very rich, or those with extreme teeth and chewing problems. I used to try to bring my two front teeth together with rubber bands. I would wear the rubber bands for a couple of hours and would actually see my teeth come together in the front. But of course when I took off the bands, I lost the effect. I never dreamed of asking my parents if I could have braces, nor did I ever pursue it as a working adult. Smiles can be endearing and welcoming even when we don’t have perfect teeth.   

There’s an ad on local TV advertising dentists who specialize in giving those with advanced teeth deterioration or other issues a new smile. One woman’s smile on the local ad is absolutely glorious. She says in the commercial, “Now I smile ALL the time. I can’t stop smiling.” It is truly a beautiful smile and she says her new teeth changed her life significantly.

Smiling more can even improve your health and well-being. The Henry Ford Healthcare System says that smiling not only boosts your mood, but helps release the all-important cortisol and endorphins that can help reduce blood pressure, reduce pain, stress, plus strengthen your immune system and endurance (henryford.com). 

A sad side effect of our current need to wear masks when out in public is the world sees many fewer smiles. I try to practice smiling even when wearing a mask: you can see the crinkles around the eyes, and it is especially important now.

Me when I was about 4 or 5 on vacation in Kentucky.

Many people have spoken of the benefits of keeping a gratitude notebook or journal, writing down things or people or experiences that you are thankful for. This can help improve your overall outlook. This also happens when we make the effort to smile more. When you are waiting at a stop light or standing in line at the grocery store, smile. Even though having to stop or wait is irksome, most of us won’t have our schedules for the day wrecked by needing to wait. (If we are always running late, that’s another issue to work on!) So the practice of smiling while waiting can change your outlook.

Smiling at children—yes even while wearing your mask—can produce smiles back. The Henry Ford website says that “children smile an average of 400 times per day, compared to the average happy adult who smiles 40-50 times per day, and the typical adult who smiles only 20 times per day.” Just today I watched a small child ignite smiles in five other people: so magical! https://www.henryford.com/blog/2017/10/health-benefits-smiling

We have just come through the season of Easter. There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus was a frequent smiler. Yes, he got angry—he was also human. But if you read the stories and conversations in scripture, you can detect how welcoming his smile must have been.

And now that I’ve finished this column, can you tell I am smiling? (Imperfect though it is.) See how many times you can make someone else smile today!

***

What have you observed about smiles?

Comment here or send to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

4 Comments
  1. Favorite line: Smiles can be endearing and welcoming even when we don’t have perfect teeth.

    Each smile is unique, each face is unique, and so are names: Barbra Streisand didn’t fix her nose nor did Reese Witherspoon or Renee Zellweger change their names.

    I agree — one of the worst things about mask-wearing is that our smiles are concealed and there is very little facial language to detect emotion.

    Melodie, I like your smile now and in the 5-year-old photo: priceless! 🙂

  2. Sorry for not responding yesterday, we were celebrating my oldest daughter’s 40th birthday as you know from FB. Believe me, there was lots of smiling inside even though we wore masks most of the visit. Barbra Streisand’s nose is a great example!

    Thanks for pulling out your favorite line. And I hope you had a great time at your book signing yesterday!

  3. I agree with you – even with our mask wearing, you can still see when people smile at one another. I think now more than ever we need to be smiling – at each other, and for ourselves.
    Loved your post!

  4. Smiling for ourselves — a good reminder. Thanks for commenting, Trisha.

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