The Benefits of a Happy Face

Until I hit the ripe, somewhat older age of…never mind the exact number, I seldom looked becoming in photos. In fact, “dreadful” summed up my physical appearance. I avoided photos for that reason. They were too revealing. A crooked upper lip, squinty eyes, or a lackluster expression would display inner frustrations and annoyances. My photos seemed to scream, “I’m not happy, but I’m not sure why.”

Then I started writing…seriously. I’ve always written something…essays, articles, interviews, letters, notes to self. But one burst of writing lingered and grew into a torrent of words. It was my first encounter with honest-to-goodness, story writing; the “I will not go quietly” type. The words ended up as my first published novel, which culminated a lifelong dream. The dream of accomplishing a feat that made me happy.

My facial expression started to shift to something more tolerable, and my aversion to being photographed diminished. I noticed that strangers who looked my way would smile. I wondered why…until I realized that I’d been smiling too. It became so that during bouts of frustration, I’d plaster on a smile, and soon, I’d feel a jigger of contentment that led to more of the same. All because I’d spent time toiling over (it wasn’t really toiling; it was more like creating or fashioning) something I loved. And the smile became a natural occurrence. This reminds me of a little story:

There once lived a king who was ill-mannered, bad tempered, and disliked by his subjects. This made the king lonely and bitter. He went to his wise counselor to ask how to change things. The counselor created a mask for the king to wear that looked exactly like the king’s face…wearing a smile. He told the king he needed to act pleasantly as well. The next time the king walked among his subjects, he was surprised that he was kindly greeted by all. After a time, the king became ashamed at the way he was deceiving his subjects and removed the mask. He walked among his people, saddened that their warm encounters had come to an end. But they didn’t end. The subjects continued to treat the king warmly; the same way as when he wore the mask. The king went to the sage who held a mirror to the king’s face. To his amazement, his eyes were bright and his expression radiant. The smile was still there. The sage told him this happy, smiling king is who he really is.

Inside all of us are the seeds of contentment. It’s vital that we find and stay on that path to happiness. And if we find that a challenge, “fake it ’til we make it.” Happiness depends to some extent upon external conditions, but chiefly upon mental attitudes. Fortunately, our attitudes are under our control…which makes happiness a choice.

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7 years ago

I agree. ” smile & the world smiles with you. Cry & you cry alone “. Quote by Stanley Gordan West.

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