The Joy of a Smile

For some reason, God designed us to smile. It’s a universal expression, from the slightest curve to the face-splitting grin. We crack them, break them, put them on, and we even smile with our eyes. It’s when the smile is genuine that we find great joy, whether on our face or a friend’s. And the more you smile, even until your cheeks hurt, you feel good.

I don’t know if it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown, but I do know sometimes it can take more energy to. Life is often grey, with only varying hints of tint and hue. But if we latch onto those spots and saturate them, we can bleed life back into our colorless world. And that can all start with a smile.

Have you ever tried holding a smile for a full minute? And not a fake one, but the kind that gives you crow’s feet, you know what I mean. It makes your eyes twinkle. It makes your brow rise. It makes your lips even tremble as they hold back laughter. That kind of smile.

To get that smile, you can try thinking of that time you forgot to wear underwear, or that time you forgot to wear pants. Or that time you forgot to wear both! You can try thinking of a funny meme, preferably SFW ones, though we all know you keep a few of the spicy kind on your phone.

Or you can think of your firstborn child, the smile on their face. Sure, the doctor might say it was only gas, but you know better. You see the cutest thing since crochet puppies (is that a thing on Etsy yet?), the most beautiful thing since sunrise, and the most precious thing since your last breath. You see the purity of God in the smile of your baby, and it now reflects back onto yours.

“The baby sure has Mama’s smile,” the nurse said.

You chuckle, proving to her which parent’s the baby truly has.

Now a smile doesn’t have to spill over the sides of your face like the Joker’s. It can be that gentle curve you’ll hold for a minute instead, still letting whatever chemicals rush through your head to signal your body to start to relax. Only the muscles of your face need to tense, those few that contract to make whatever smile you chose. And it’s your smile; no one has a right to take it away. So hold on to it, just for this minute at least, because the joy you’re feeling now—God made you for it. Hold on to this bit of joy, connect it with bits you collect as you smile and receive smiles back throughout your days. Adding to others’ collections grow your own—but your own growth is incidental. It’s joyous to simply watch smiles on others grow.

Smiles even affect your voice and your words. Try talking on the phone with a smile on your face. People will hear a difference. You’ll feel a difference, especially if your work is primarily over phone. Imagine, making your whole day better, while still slaving away! But it doesn’t feel much like slave labor anymore. And your clients, customers, and patients—they don’t seem as annoying, as demanding, as deceptive as before.

Perhaps something is changing in them as you infect them with joy, since as you talk your words will be kinder, softer, even funnier. Maybe heartier and deeper, like the connections you’ll make. And then you’ll transfer this skill to in-person conversations, most importantly with those you love. Then you’ll see the product of your encouraging, uplifting words.

“Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” (Proverbs‬ ‭16:24‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

You’ll more than likely see a certain evidence on their face as well. A seed of a smile, growing larger by the moment your friend spends with you. We were made for this. God made us this way: for joy.

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