I am a consummate smiler. I use my smiles for good, for fun, for reassurance, and for manipulation. If I had a dollar for every time a stranger has told me I have a beautiful smile, I’d be as rich in fact as I am in fancy. And don’t get me started on how many times men have crooned to me, “When Irish eyes are smiling…” I realized early on in life the value of a good grin, a smattering of smirk, a mouth shaped by mirth.
A smile that lifts my lips and ruddy cheeks speaks to heartfelt warmth and welcome. A wider smile — the kind characterized by a flash of my pearly whites — generally precedes a joyous (and occasionally raucous) laugh. When I lean into my smile softly, tilt my head, and perhaps place a light hand on an arm or knee, I am sending sympathy. And when one corner of my mouth shoots upward, it signals certain mischief and sometimes sarcasm; I used to engage in this sort of smile so frequently, I carved a deep crease in the flesh of my face on the right side.
There are so many tropes and truisms surrounding this simple expression — such as smiling is good exercise because it moves more muscles than frowning — that the act may seem cliché. But given all the stress and strain of this world, taking into account personal and external disappointments, worries, and sadness, I thought it best to smile through life.
By Aline Soules
On March 19, 2022
This is both charming and instructional. You remind us of the importance of being positive, a reminder I need regularly. Thanks for this. Aline