Here is a question. When was the last time you smile?
As I age, I try to think I am growing into a better person, one who is less judgemental, less bad-tempered, more patient, more forgiving, more generous and more compassionate. I look at the older people around me and I observe the ways their mouths droop, the frowns edged permanently between their eyes, even as they go about their way, unaware of the unpleasant features they present. Are they truly unhappy or has the habits of life, previously masked behind youthful looks, now been casted in mold that can’t be removed unless consciously done so.
Just the other day, after hearing Ivan and Aaron’s constant bickering in the car, I pointed to a middle-aged man trying to navigate his car into a parking lot. ‘Look at his face,’ I said, ‘See how his mouth is set into an inverted smily face 😦 even though he is alone and may not be displeased. If you are constantly unhappy, you’ll end up like that too.’ I went on to explain how nature is no help as one ages, as gravity forces your muscles down and thus pulls down your lips, and poor eye-sight forces you to squint and adds on the frown. ‘So, stop complaining and smile more for it to become a habit.’ I told the boys. It worked! They stopped. (My apologies to that driver. I meant it to be an observation, not a judgement.)
I note how my mother often eyes the maids in disdain, and warn silently to her that this look could forever be the look of her unaware self – angry and frustrated. Then I see the new First Lady, Mrs Tony Tan. Her mouth is always set in a smile whether she was appearing on TV or in the newspapers, a look of patience and kindness, and I vow to be more like her.
When I first began to practise yoga almost four years ago, my teacher would often say to us as we contorted ourselves into the various poses, ‘Why are you all frowning?’
Was I? I wasn’t aware that I was.
So now, in front of the mirror in the dance studio at Clementi Swimming Complex during Friday Yoga class, I try hard to wipe that frown away and force my lips into an upward tilt as I do the ‘tree’ or a ‘brave warrior’. It’s easy to remind myself as I see my fellow classmates frowning in pose.
To end, here are some quotes on why you should smile more:
A smile will gain you ten more years of life. – Chinese Proverb
Smile at each other, smile at your wife, smile at your husband, smile at your
children, smile at each other — it doesn’t matter who it is — and that will
help you to grow up in greater love for each other. – Mother Teresa
Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person,
a beautiful thing. ~Mother Teresa
People seldom notice old clothes if you wear a big smile. ~Lee Mildon
Life is like a mirror, we get the best results when we smile at it. ~Author Unknown
It takes seventeen muscles to smile and forty-three to frown. ~Author Unknown