Smile Though Your Heart is Aching

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you

Smile, made famous by Nat King Cole

older man smiling outdoors - Wyoming Department of Health

I was trying to smile today. This is a conscious effort on my part, not something natural for me. Why is that? There are some people who seem to effortlessly smile in every move they make.

Here I was smiling while walking through a department store and I think because I was wearing a blazer, a guy dressed as most adults today are (shorts and t-shirt), walked right up to me and asked me where the changing room was. Only people being paid to be nice smile? This has happened to me before. Maybe a sign about future options?

I’d like to advocate smiling as a deliberate daily effort. It has helped me tremendously. But I have to consciously change my normal scowl, look others in the eye, maybe even say something, and always try to smile (no matter what). It works, even when students I pass have technology in their ears and can’t hear me speak. They can always “hear” a smile.

“A smile remains the most inexpensive gift I can bestow on anyone and yet its powers can vanquish kingdoms.” ― Og Mandino

Teaching in classrooms filled with students who are just glaring makes me want to tell more jokes. That can’t be good. We need to learn something, don’t we? Even adults accidently scowl as they sit and listen to me. That’s why I’m pushing the ideas of conscious smiling for all of us. Think about yourself, others and how your nonverbal communication is working (or not).

In a famous experiment researchers asked two groups of subjects to look at cartoons and rate how funny they were. The experiment was repeated with different groups. But always with two groups at a time to compare. They were told that the experiment was to help develop writing methods for the disabled. One group was asked to hold a pen in their lips while looking at the cartoon. The second group was asked to hold the pen in their teeth.  Each time, the group holding the pen with their teeth rated the cartoon as funnier than the other group.

Why did one group have better mood scores again and again? The theory is that their brains thought they WERE in a better mood because their smile muscles were in use. Clinching the pen in their teeth activated facial muscles that the other group did not when they just used their lips. Your attitudes shape your behaviors AND your behaviors shape your attitudes. Both are true about humans. Smiling more often can change your mood each day. 

“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.” ― Joseph Addison (1672-1719)

You do realize that if you’re not smiling, you’re probably scowling. You don’t want that “look” to define who you are. People everywhere are getting an impression of who you are and about the places where we are; work, church, neighborhood, groups, etc., based on the body language we are communicatingUnhappy Older Woman Images – Browse 17,280 Stock Photos, Vectors, and Video | Adobe Stock with our expressions. Today, a large majority of Americans have a pessimistic outlook about the future. During the pandemic, surveys indicated that Americans were more unhappy than ever (since these polls have been taken). Recent happy numbers are getting better as life returns to something similar to normal. Don’t you think more smiles would just be good medicine for our fractured and distraught civilization? It couldn’t hurt.

“I could really use someone else’s smile today.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich

Smile all the time and at everyone, not just the people you know. Be careful, you don’t want people to think you’re up to something. Just be less sealed off and distant from the world you pass through. You’re going to have to get your face out of that phone. Look up and look at others. In our culture this is okay. Open up your face and your life a little bit more. Everyone needs some human warmth and connection. Don’t you?

“When you lose your smile, you lose your way in the chaos of life.” ― Roy T. Bennett

My Child's First Dental Visit - Smiling Kids Pediatric Dentistry / IndianapolisSmiling Kids Pediatric Dentistry / Indianapolis



4 thoughts on “Smile Though Your Heart is Aching

    1. Thanks – it’s simple, yet I’ve got to constantly remind myself to pay attention to how I’m “presenting” – or pay more attention to my “anxious thoughts” that drive my expressions…


      1. Same here… by “simple” – I can only understand that smiling is such a small act with an impact I tend to forget. Amazing how much life improves when we retrain ourselves. I’m still learning to go against the grain.

        – Bob


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