A local storefront in our town has the following saying in its window: “If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.”
It’s a clever epigram for a dental office. But it’s also a great sentiment, suggesting an easy way to spread joy.
When I was a teacher, I would stand outside my classroom door between class periods to welcome the students. One day as I stood there, I noticed most of the students smiling at me. This was not a normal occurrence in a hallway full of teenagers. All at once, I realized why. I had been standing there with a big smile on my face.
Research has shown that if people hold a pencil between their teeth, forcing their mouths into a smile, their moods improve. The adage, “Fake it ’til you make it” applies here. Smiling will help us feel happy. And as I discovered in the hallways of the high school, smiling is contagious.
The importance of a smile is a guiding force behind the charity Smile Train. Smile Train funds surgery for children born with cleft lip or palate whose parents do not have the resources to correct the defect. To be sure, there are medical reasons for correcting a cleft lip or palate. But providing a child with a more beautiful smile is not an unimportant one.
The power of a smile has special meaning in my life. When my husband and I adopted our youngest child from China, our first days with her were traumatic. She was bewildered and afraid. Something as simple as a bath would make her cry hysterically, and she would look at us with such somber eyes.
One morning at breakfast in the hotel, I was feeding my daughter. On impulse, I bent down and pressed my forehead to hers. She looked up at me and broke out in a beautiful grin. That smile was a sign. We had a beautiful relationship ahead of us.
Why not try seeing how powerful your smile can be today?
For more information on the wonderful work of Smile Train, go to: