I grew up in a household much like many others. There was homework to be done and chores to be tended to. But there was one thing that frequented our household much more than any other I’d known.
My mom and I were known to smile on occasion, but my dad? He took this thing to a whole new level. He has always been a little more cheerful and optimistic than the average person. And it shines clear across his face, day after day, in a big ol’ smile. In fact, he has rightfully earned the nickname “Smiley” from his closest family and friends.
His optimism is second to none. I’ve seen him smile while he’s watching the home team win the ball game and while he’s spending time with friends. But I’ve also seen people cut him off in traffic or serve him up a rude or disrespectful comment as he handed them a smile and a gracious answer in return. And not just once. Year after year, he maintains that smile and that sense of, what’s the word?
Then one day, it hit me: My dad is the Happiest Man on Earth. This is the only logical explanation for all the questions I’ve been asked through the years.
“Does your dad smile in his sleep?”
“Is he really that happy ALL the time?”
“What does he do when he gets angry?”
My kids have even hopped on the bandwagon. “Why do you smile all the time?” they asked.
And I knew exactly what they meant. In a world where there’s so much negativity, so much to be angry about and so much to worry about, how in the world do you manage to keep a smile on your face? So I asked the HME (HME = Happiest Man on Earth) and he answered. Here’s what he said.
It’s good medicine
Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine.” We usually smile because we’re happy, but maybe we should start smiling because we want to be happy. A smile can be the gateway to a joyful heart, and like the Proverb says, a joyful heart can be the remedy for the not-so-good things we sometimes feel.
I remember when the HME walked me down the aisle on my wedding day. I happened to look over at him and, per his usual, he was grinning from ear to ear. Next thing you know, I was smiling, too! I literally couldn’t help it. Seeing his smile reminded me that perhaps I should take full advantage of that moment and do some smiling of my own.
Try it out for yourself! If you want to change the atmosphere in your home or workplace, try smiling more. Your pearly whites might not convince everyone, but there are bound to be a few folks that just need you to get the ball rolling and are willing to follow your lead.
It wards off negativity
“It’s hard for me to feel down when I come around you!”
That’s what people often tell the HME. His smiling face serves as a deterrent for what he calls “downers,” or those of us who are prone to whine, moan and complain. When people come around my dad, they tend to trade in their negativity for a more positive outlook, all because he chooses to smile and not feed into any excessive grumbling.
You know the very first thing the HME told me about all the smiling he does? That it encourages others. In fact, the HME takes time to think about what he can do to uplift other people. This idea reminds me of what we’re instructed to do in Philippians 2:3-4: “In humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
There’s a really great lesson in that! In spite of the difficulties and challenges you might be facing, your smile can uplift others and prevent unnecessary drama from coming your way.
It demonstrates your faith
The HME’s sunny disposition isn’t simply his resting face. He is actually smiling from the inside out.
He’s smiling because he knows that no matter what life throws his way, God will take care of him. Because of that simple truth, he doesn’t have to wait for the ideal set of life circumstances to come knocking at his door in order to smile. He can do it any time.
The HME’s smile is an outward symbol of his inner hope and faith. I think that’s why people ask so many questions about it. His smile indicates that he’s got hope, or some sort of reason to be happy. This makes people wonder hey, where’d you find hope? I think I’d like some of that. It’s kind of like what’s described in I Peter: “If someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” (I Peter 3:15, NLT)
So the HME’s smiling face gives him an opportunity to explain the hope he has in Christ! Maybe in addition to all the other great evangelism tools out there, we can simply choose to smile through the ups and downs of life and then watch the inquiries come pouring in.
It prepares you for the “big things”
Start smiling at life’s menial annoyances and people’s inconsequential snide remarks because a) it drives people crazy (am I allowed to say that?) and b) exercising faith and a positive outlook in small things prepares us to respond in faith to more substantial things, like a financial crisis, a health scare or a hardship concerning a child or family member.
So smile, Woman! You look good doing it and before you know it, you’ll be feeling good, too.