The Power of Expression: Why Smiling Can Bring So Much Joy to Your Life and Your Loved Ones
What is a smile? Let's be honest. A Smile often meant a number of different things to various people, because it depended on the tone that it conveyed. People can smile if they were happy, amused, stressed or as a simple gesture to demonstrate their disgust for someone or something. When you end any day with a smile, the whole world tended to follow suit with you. That may sound like a resounding cliche but a simple gesture of kindness can say a lot more than the flashiest of speeches in pretty much any movie or television show. The only true trick in the art of smiling is learning what different ones could mean and finding the appropriate response for each without making any major social errors.
In order to understand certain smiling social cues, it's best to often determine what the tone of the conversation you're in the middle of. Are you having a laugh with friends or getting into a major discussion about your messy finances? Once that was part of the equation is determined, you need to watch the people you're interacting with (friends, loved ones, etc.) and avoid the appearance of studying them like Jane Goodall or National Geographic. The best way to do that would to break down the different types of smiles and three situations where they're warranted. It's hard to say what the response will be from your loved ones, whether it's a kiss or a kiss-off. Read on to see what your next smile should be if you're looking for a little affection or something less. The answers may surprise you.
Family Affection/Destruction- Take a look at your latest family photo and pay attention how everyone is smiling. Your mother had a look of motherly affection as she embraced your father every so gently without being overbearing. Your father has a slightly stern look of authority mixed with a hint of Mr. Rogers' neighborly friendliness. Friends and loved ones can't help but turn to him for guidance on everything. Your brother Mike, on the other hand, had a different expression on his face, which was one of obligation. He would rather be anywhere but there. His smile may be perfectly placed, but his eyes indicated that he would rather be dipped in scalding hot water than be sitting next to your good girl sister Jane. A picture may be worth a thousands word, but it's what in between the lines that said so much more. Look at the movie Everybody's Fine where the family patriarch (Robert De Niro) decided to take a cross country trip to see his four children after they all skipped out of coming to visit for the holidays. He realized that his children were living totally different lives than they admitted to him. Each visit brought him closer to his family and gave everyone a whole new appreciation of each other.
Another example of a dynamic family photo that proved to convey a lot more than intended was in the movie Ordinary People about an unhappy family where the parents (Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore) were on the brink of divorce and the only remaining son (Timothy Hutton) was still struggling with the death of his brother. One pivotal scene involved taking pictures at a gathering and Moore's lack of interest in having a picture taken with her son because she secretly blamed him for his brother's accidental death. This scene helped shake the family out of their forced reality and no longer hide behind their false smiles. A lesson worth learning by people trapped in a life not worth their happiness and that warranted a true smile. Maybe, a good family photo for the scrapbook.
Love Learned/Love Lost- Can a couple in love truly be happy just being themselves? Is it more to laugh or to be serious all the time? Look at the movie Duplicity where corporate spies Ray (Clive Owen) and Claire (Julia Roberts) loved each other, but they focused more on creating an elaborate scheme to con two major corporations to shell out millions for a phony business deal. This plan kept them apart and at odds with each other. They might be smiling at each other on the outside, but they're secretly planning to destroy each other on the inside. The only thing that could truly bring the trust challenged spies together was the ultimate con that threw them for a loop. Something definitely worth a laught and a few smiles. Another example of truth versus fantasy in romance is the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days where a writer (Kate Hudson) tried to charm a man (Matthew McConaughey) while writing an article by driving away a man in over a week. She did everything to drive him nuts, but he got the last laugh when she ended up falling for him. Checkmate indeed.
Schemes/Addictions- Can a sweet old man truly be a sly schemer or just a sweet old man? Can the life of the party be headed down a path of destruction or just looking for another good time? In the movie Where the Money Is, Henry (Paul Newman) appeared to be a fragile old man who was simply pretending to be ill to avoid a long prison sentence. Carol (Linda Fiorentino) is a nurse who is roped into a scheme of Henry's that involved a robbery. She was lured by a simple smile that offered riches beyond compare. Should she fall for it or run for the hills? In terms of party people, the party can only go on for so long. Sometimes, it can end in complete disaster. In the movie 28 Days, Gwen (Sandra Bullock) is forced into going to rehab where she had to learn to smile without being under the influence of alcohol, which was no small feat. It proved worth it in the end when she was able to experience her first true sober moment of happiness. Something to celebrate.
In the end, a smile can mean way too many different things. If you analyze every look and gesture too much, it will drive you insane. Sometimes, a smile is just that. Learn to enjoy them and pay it forward to someone in desperate need of one. A child who broke their leg or scraped their knee riding their bicycle. How about a heartbroken mother looking for some simple pleasures to avoid their sadness for a little while? Like Sally Field getting to laugh after her daughter's funeral in Steel Magnolias. Laughter is the best medicine in times of sadness. It'll make you feel a lot better than causing someone any type of misery. Guaranteed. If not, watch Sandra Bullock charm Hugh Grant's playboy in Two Weeks Notice instead.