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The Permagrin: Being Forced to Smile

Not long ago, I wrote an entry on how powerful it is to smile.  Today, I’m going to discuss how important it is to allow yourself to not smile.  Smiling is great…I’m all for it.  It has a lot of great benefits and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy.  But let’s face it: there are times when you just don’t want to smile.  It doesn’t matter what the reason is.  It is human.  It is natural.  And there is no reason for you to feel bullied into smiling if at that very moment, you just don’t feel like it.

This morning I was perfectly content in my own world, deep in thought about all the things I had to get done today, and BAM, I hear someone say, “Brett…SMILE.” My co-worker obviously assumed that my not smiling implied that I was unhappy.  As a result, he jolted me out of deep thought and tried to command me to smile.  What is that? Where is it written that if you don’t smile there must be something wrong with you?  Aren’t we past the ‘Beaver Cleaver’ days of society?  The ‘I must smile and look perfect all the time’ era?  People…no one should be expected to smile 24 hours a day!

I remember a similar time when I was in college.  My father was very sick, and one evening I was on the pay-phone with my mom getting an update on his condition.  At some point during the conversation, my classmate who I barely knew, passed by and told me to ‘SMILE.’  It actually made me feel worse.  I felt it was completely insensitive.  I was obviously having a serious and private conversation (as private as one could possibly have at a public pay-phone), listening intently to the details about my dad, and this stranger, who had no idea who I was talking to or what I was talking about, imposed his permagrin expectations on me.  Maybe I should have been ‘touched’ by this person’s supposed concern about my state of mind, but he didn’t even know me…he didn’t even understand the situation…he didn’t know what was going on inside of me.  He just had it in his mind that I should be smiling.

There are times that being reminded to smile can be a good thing.  It can help us gain perspective.  But it shouldn’t be demanded of us.  If someone needs some deep thought time…is having a bad day…or just doesn’t feel ‘smiley’, they should have the right to not smile.  Moreover, making an individual feel self-conscious about how they look when they are unhappy…are having a bad day…or are receiving not-so-great news, isn’t helpful.  An individual has every right to not smile…whatever the reason.

Has anyone told you to smile?  How did it make you feel?

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Posted in Brett's Blog, Mind-Body Tagged with: , , ,