By Dawn Onley
This has been one tough year.
The constant, unrelenting barrage of high profile deaths (Muhammad Ali, Prince, David Bowie, Elie Wiesel, Phife Dawg, Vanity, Maurice White, Nancy Reagan, Garry Shandling, Doris Roberts and Alan Rickman, just to name a few). Week after week, we hold our collective breath and wonder who will be next.
The unwarranted, unprovoked deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille at the hands of police officers, which started a series of peaceful Black Lives Matter protests around the country.
The cowardly attack on police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, by two former military members, which left eight officers dead and nearly a dozen wounded.
The official nomination of Donald Trump last night as the Republican candidate for president.
These are perilous times. Another day, another atrocity. There is so much turmoil that it’s getting increasingly tough to tune out.
We wonder how we can help make things better.
I’ve decided that even something as small and seemingly trivial as a smile can make a world of difference. It can help turn someone’s day around. It’s a small gesture that can signal hope in these trying times.
Below are five good reasons to don the pearly whites. I look at it as defiance in the face of sadness. It’s good triumphing over evil. It’s my way of controlling what I can control and hopefully making the world a little brighter. Won’t you join me?
1) A smile is reassuring. It’s the universal language of happiness. It’s also contagious. Try smiling at someone today and watch and see how often it’s reciprocated.
2) It’s a signal of peace and goodwill. It’s inviting. It lets people know we are all in this together, and that united we stand, divided we fall. I’ve seen the gruffest exteriors completely melt at a smile.
3) Even in the saddest of times, with so much unfathomable stuff going on, there is still so much for which to be happy and grateful. We are blessed to see another day. Each of us can point to someone who loves us. We also have people we love as well. That’s reason enough to smile.
4) It’s healthier to smile. Seriously. Smiling helps to relieve stress. If we smile enough, we’ll live longer. Ok, I totally made that last part up. But, who knows?
5) Smiles help us to somehow feel better, even if they are not completely genuine. In her book, After You, Jojo Moyes quips that “sometimes the illusion of happiness inadvertently creates it.”
Smiles don’t cost a thing and give us so much in return.
To quote gospel artist, Kirk Franklin, in his happy little tune “I Smile:”
I smile, even though I hurt see I smile I know God is working so I smile Even though I’ve been here for a while I smile, smile It’s so hard to look up when you been down Sure would hate to see you give up now You look so much better when you smile, so smile