What is it about a smile that makes us feel so good? Is it the fact that we realize the joy behind it is being transferred to us, or that the person smiling is expressing happiness, love, and/or compassion for themselves and others as well?

Sure...well can all recognize a phony smile. It doesn't take a scientist to tell us when someone's smile is "full of it." In those cases the feelings conveyed are inauthentic. Often, it means someone wants something. Perhaps your approval, your vote, your money, or your compassion. But...we pick up the "pasted on smile" right away.

The other - the "real smile" however...well, that's just pure lightness. A great one exudes love, excitement, and enables us to see "inside" the person's heart. That smile is a snapshot of the authenticity of the person at that moment. No hiding, no pretense, no wanting something in return. It's just the embodiment that something wonderful is going on right then and there. Often...the smile leads to laughter, sometimes uproarious laughter that permeates everything and everyone around it and spreads faster than a cold in a kindergarten classroom.

Smiling is therapeutic. It creates wellness. Try it. It's hard to feel sick during the short period of a smile. In fact, when we are sick and someone brings us an authentic smile, it instantly makes us feel better (even if it's ever so slightly better). And...if we start to laugh, well then - all our ills somehow magically disappear.

So my friends - don't be stingy with your smiles. Give them away constantly. Let them lead to laughter. Bring them with you always. Spread them around freely. And - especially use them when they are often needed the most: during hard times, sad times, tough times, and times when you are all alone. Yes...that means you smile for no one but yourself. Because...your own smile can bring you joy as well.

Remember, during the worst of times a smile can light up the darkness. And - during the best of times, and all times in between, it can light your way even during the brightest of days. Make sure you don't forget them my'll need them - that's for certain. Because, the journey is a long one and everyone, including you, will need the lightness they contain.

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