Aleteia

How your smile can be a secret weapon

happy smiling woman
Cabeca de Marmore | Shutterstock
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A smile can make others happy and improve our own mood.

Have you ever woken up and wondered which face you’ll present to the world? Will it be a smiling face of someone who’s happy to see others, or a scowling face that makes people wonder if you’ve got problems? Some enviable creatures among us smile spontaneously, while for others it’s a constant struggle. In any case, smiling is a powerful statement — it’s the first thing we say to those around us.

A smile, an invitation to an exchange

An openly smiling face is like a sunlit landscape. A smile is balm to a troubled soul. Today, spotting a smiling face is like a heaven-sent gift. Amid the jostling crowds and traffic jams, to come across a smiling face, of someone we don’t even know, a smile not even directed to us, can reconcile us to humanity. And it’s a gift we can offer to all those we meet with no cost to ourselves.

A smile speaks volumes. But don’t say that too loud: it might give people ideas! Imagine a country in which the smile was the required attitude in ordinary relations, a country in which, right from kindergarten, people were accustomed to smile at each other rather than to attack each other. Wouldn’t that seem a dangerous country? This could develop into such fraternity between its citizens, such a will for the common good, and such tenacity to do everything possible to achieve it—that it might be seen as unfair competition, an escape from the law of the jungle, a threat to international relations based precisely on mistrust and competition … A smile is like an invitation to free exchange. And perhaps it’s that we’re afraid of.

To smile is to inaugurate heaven on earth

Like everything human, and deeply so, a smile is a double-edged sword. A smile can be perverse and perverting. A false smile seeks to create a misleading façade. It’s in the nature of a lie: one smiles to mask one’s real intentions. This though only serves to demonstrate the power of the smile: it can successfully obtain what force cannot. On one hand, a man who smiles to deceive a child horrifies us. We then have no hesitation in calling it the smile of the devil, of the Evil One, because he’s so clever at sweet deception. In an unnatural perversion, a smile can be mocking, cutting, cruel. But then, a smile can also be naive—the smile of the innocent, of one who wishes no harm. This smile, one of openness, is welcomed without suspicion. It’s the smile of a baby, a smile that melts the heart; the smile of a person with a disability who smiles at you with no thought of harm, just because he believes you mean him well.

But a smile, like a testimony when it is frank and honest, is a weapon given to us by the Lord to disarm the wicked. It’s simple enough to try it out for yourself: smile when you’re behind the wheel, smile at someone who asks you for directions, smile when someone insults you. It’s said that, in heaven, the angels smile unceasingly, so happy are they to be ever in the presence of the Lord. And that’s why smiling inaugurates heaven on earth. It’s an eminent mission within the reach of any Christian: as the Gospel proclaims, we can “renew the face of the earth.”

Alain Quilici

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