by: FR. ROY CIMAGALA
A NUMBER of people are now wondering about that. In fact, even Pope Benedict recently referred to this observation. People worldwide seem to be smiling less. In its place, we are seeing an increase in tension, nervousness and irritability such that many people are now talking about the need to learn anger management.
If people smile nowadays, its most likely in the shallow level. In the media, for example, the elements of smile seem to be observed only in the sports and entertainment sections. They are seldom observed on the front page or on the Op-ed page.
We really do not know up to what extent this observation is true. But it cannot be denied that even if its factuality is limited, it already evokes pity. Smile is a wonderful human treasure that should not be allowed to wane, let alone, lost.
I googled some sayings about smiling, and I got a good number that reflect the many amazing facets of this human gesture. Here are a sampling that I bet will amuse you as they have amused me.
%u2022 A smile is an inexpensive way to change your looks. ~Charles Gordy
%u2022 If you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it. ~Andy Rooney
%u2022 I%u2019ve never seen a smiling face that was not beautiful. ~Author Unknown
%u2022 A laugh is a smile that bursts. ~Mary H. Waldrip
%u2022 The shortest distance between two people is a smile. ~Author Unknown
%u2022 You%u2019re never fully dressed
without a smile. ~Martin Charnin
%u2022 Smile – it increases your face value. ~Author Unknown There were a lot more. We need to do something to promote this habit, since it is always good and healthy and produces wonderful effects on everyone.
My personal experience is that a smile helps me tremendously in my ministry. When you smile, people will find it easy to approach you, to connect with you, to be sincere with you. It initiates friendship and develops trust. It is good in breaking the ice between two persons. Its beautifully contagious. You smile at someone and most likely hell smile back. It easily offers bridges over whatever gaps there may be among us. Differences and conflicts are softened and put in condition for calm dialogue.
We have to recover this habit that seems to suffer when the pressures of progress and the challenges of growth and development unavoidably come. For this, we need to understand that what is needed is to ground it in a much deeper foundation.
The main problem, I think, is that we tend to root it on a shallow, shifting ground. We tend to keep it in the material, external and visceral level, held captive in the world of the unreasoning instincts and feelings.
It seems caught in a stunted, arrested stage of development. In other words, to smile, now when there is so much pressure to contend with, is urgently looking for a deeper, more authentic source. It is gasping for a genuine lifeline, not mere palliatives, stop-gap measures and escape mechanisms. It is grasping for its proper anchor and purpose.
If you notice, we usually tend to smile as an instinctive reaction to something sensible, whether soothing, funny, amusing, physically beautiful, etc. Since we were kids, thats how we have been behaving.
Those who are better endowed, that is, with greater intelligence and therefore greater capacity to understand things, can manage to smile at engaging ideas and at the continuing flow of discoveries and realizations.
If you are not that endowed, then it would seem you are doomed, which is unfair and actually not true. I believe everyone, regardless of his endowments, physical, emotional, intellectual, etc., can manage to smile always if he knows where to get its proper impulse. And this can be no other than God. We need to expand our understanding of the dynamics of our smile. We cannot restrict it in the sphere of biology, nor in that of our intelligence. It has to grow and develop in its ultimate and proper milieu of faith and beliefs, where the spiritual and supernatural forces are made to augment, purify and perfect our natural forces.
When this understanding and mechanism are in place, we can manage to smile even in trying and difficult times. Well always find a reason, a forceful reason to smile. For believers in Christ, they know that their smile has to be rooted on Christs Cross. With that foundation, nothing can drive it away. Hardships would only enhance it.
I think it’s still cool to smile. So does the POPE.