Maria L Valdivia, Peru, ESOL Writing V

I did not realize the importance of a simple smile until the day that my five-year-old daughter held me tight with a big smile and asked, “Mommy...are you laughing?” We were at the beach with my parents, and my father kept falling into the water because of the waves (really small waves). He could not stand by himself, so my mother went to help him and she fell, too. They started laughing because they could not stand up. It was so funny that I could not help myself and started smiling which turned into laughing. I could not remember how good it felt to have that kind of moment. Of course we all finished our day with a good smile on our faces. This may be a simple story for anyone but it was not for me. Later on, I asked myself several questions: Why was my daughter surprised that I could smile or even laugh? How happy was she because of that? How often do I smile to the people that I work with? How can a smile affect other people? Sometimes, we as parents get so involved in their problems and all the bad things that happen in their life that we forget to smile. Parents represent the world for their small children, and a smile can make a difference in their emotional stability. As parents, we need to understand and learn how to deal with our problems, and try not to affect them in a wrong way. I found out, for example, that if I smile at my daughter, she will smile back at me, at least most of the time. Also, if I ask her to do something with a smile on my face, such as pick up your toys, she will respond better than if I do it in an angry way. We also need to demonstrate sincerity when we smile; otherwise, they will know that we are faking it and we will get the opposite results.

Also, it is important to smile frequently in our work environment. Some studies show that smiling boosts the mood and vitality and can increase energy. If you add a smile to your daily “good morning” and/or during your day, you can change the attitude of other people, have a better connection with your staff, increase performance and reduce the stress that a normal day in the office can generate. I used to enter my office saying one “hello” or “good morning” to everyone without looking at my coworkers’ faces. Once I started to spend a few minutes greeting the people that work around me, I started to hear the “good morning” back with a smile on their faces, and we actually started the day in a better mood.

What is important is to realize and believe that one smile can touch other people’s hearts and change their whole day, even if you do not know the person. I volunteer at my church once a month, and normally I try to smile every time a person approaches me. Most of the time I do not know their names because of the large number of people that attend church, but there have been times when people have commented on and even thanked me for my smile. You can apply this to any place you go: when you take the bus, at church, buying a cup of coffee, etc.

There is a famous phrase in Spanish that says, “Uno recibe de lo que da” (You get what you give). If you give a smile you may have a big possibility to receive one back and feel good about it. The important thing is to always think positive and smile. Perhaps we can even change the world.

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