By Mary Ryan, Director of Writing
The other day I was at the grocery store. When I’m in public places, I like to smile at people because of something Mother Teresa said that I will challenge you with later on. As I was walking around the store smiling at the people I passed by, this one man said to me, “It’s nice to see someone smile. Nobody smiles anymore!” And I realized, sadly, that he was right.
Since when did smiling go out of style? Did we all just forget how to?
I talked to my hairdresser about this. She agreed and said, “You know, I think a smile looks pretty on people!” She is absolutely right–a radiant face definitely makes people look more beautiful because you can see the inner joy of their hearts written externally on their faces.
It never occurred to me how little people actually smile these days or how much of an impact a smile can make until I actually made it a point to smile at others. Sometimes I forget to smile or exchange kind glances with people when walking around, and it takes an acknowledgement of this lack of joy for me to actually remember to keep sharing the love and light of Christ through my face.
I think the reason why it seems that smiling tends to be overlooked is because it takes more energy to think positively than it does to think negatively. We also seem to live in a world where the media loves to proclaim negative news and where gossip is a normal pastime. With all the hate, sometimes it is easy to forget how much love also exists.
The crazy thing, too, is that when one person shares a kind look with another person, the other will usually return the exchange, causing a chain reaction of happiness that lasts for a little while. It always makes my day when people smile at me or smile back at me when I smile at them.
Imagine how much more beautiful of an experience walking down the street or walking down the hall at school or work would be if we all took the initiative to smile or kindly acknowledge one another. It sounds much better than avoiding eye contact, staring at our phones, and wondering why everyone looks so unapproachable, doesn’t it?
Our world is in need of love. As I mentioned earlier, Mother Teresa said something that inspired me to smile more. I pose her same challenge to each of you:
“Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”
Whether it be someone you know, someone you don’t know, your neighbor, someone you pass by while in another state or country, someone walking on the streets, or someone living on the streets, remember to smile. We’re all human and we all are going through battles that nobody else sees. You never know; your smile could be the one positive acknowledgement that someone needs to keep on going.
A smile can completely turn someone’s day around. We may never know the effects that our actions, no matter how small, can have, but I am telling you that a smile is one action that we all ought to take. The Bible tells us that “The sign of a good heart is a radiant face” (Sirach 13:26). May our faces always be radiant with smiles and may our hearts always be good. Let us show off the beauty God has given us in our faces and teach ourselves to smile again. Let us spread love instead of hate, starting with a simple, white, upward curve.
Father in Heaven, please inspire us with Your love to always smile and radiate Your love to each person we meet. We thank You for all of the blessings in our lives and ask that You continue to bless us. Let us, in return, never fail to show You our gratitude and never fail to continue giving to those around us as You give to us. Thank You, Lord, for this beautiful life. Amen.
Article previously published on Mary’s personal blog: https://musingsofayoungcatholicwoman.wordpress.com/blog/