If you’re reading this, I want you to ask yourself, “Have I smiled today?” If the answer is yes, don’t ever stop. If the answer is no, then ask yourself again, “What’s on my mind?”

 

Every day I observe people. I view their body language, their facial expressions, and how they communicate. This includes individuals walking around my neighbourhood, the cashiers at a store, the drivers in the cars beside me, or the waiters/waitresses serving my food. Whether I am in Brampton, Mississauga, or Toronto, most of the people I observe all have one thing in common: they all seem miserable. People walk around with a “come at me” demeanour. Cashiers give back your change like a zombie without a soul. Drivers rage on the road with a Ludacris attitude screaming, “Move bitch, get out the way.” And waiters/waitresses serve up your food like, “Is it time to go home yet?” These are just some examples of the type of people you may come across in your daily life. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of nice, approachable, and positive people around. But from what I’ve been seeing over the past while, it seems like genuine happiness is at an all time low.

I believe people are stressed out now more than ever before. You’re constantly thinking about your future, your job, your debt, your income, your bills, your grades, your social life, or your relationships. In these times, we forget about the small things that should mean the most to us. We forget about things like breathing clean air, drinking uncontaminated water, having a roof over our heads, spending time with our families, or having the freedom to go and explore what’s out there in this world.

I love it when people smile and laugh because it makes ME want to smile and laugh. Have you ever walked across someone with a tense body and a scowling face? It creates an immediate impact and you end up adjusting your own body and face to match theirs. I live in Brampton and the amount of people that stare at me every day makes me think that they all want to fight me. Even though this is probably not the case, I unconsciously end up doing the same thing back to them thinking, “What do you want?” It isn’t the right thing to do but it happens to a lot of people no matter where you are.

In the summer of 2015, I visited the Caribbean for the first time with my family. I stayed at the Meliá Marina resort in Varadero, Cuba. What I found most surprising from my experience was that I didn’t fall in love with the beach, the country, the drinks, or the entertainment as much as I did with its people. I have always been a social person but I took it to the next level there. Whether it was a tourist from another part of the world or a worker at the resort, I approached them, I talked to them, and I became friends with them. I got to know them, their stories, their memories, their hobbies, and their knowledge. And all of this happened because of one thing: they were all in a great mood, they were happy, they were laughing, and they were smiling. Workers who made nowhere near the same amount of money as people do here had smiles on their faces. It was so incredible that when the trip was over, I didn’t want to come back to my area. I knew I wouldn’t feel the same sitting at a bar in downtown Toronto compared to a bar in the Caribbean, but I was still thankful for the opportunity to witness what true happiness looks like.

I guess times have really changed. 50 years ago, it might have been sufficient enough to own a small house and car, while still living as a happy family with much to be grateful for. In 2017, it’s all about wanting more, wanting bigger, wanting better, and wanting newer. Materialists don’t understand that no matter what they buy with all of the money in the world, it won’t buy them happiness. There will always be more clothes to buy, there will always be a bigger house, there will always be better technology, and there will always be a newer car. However, a person who is rich in spiritual values has much to smile about.

Smiling creates a welcoming environment. A smile can not only change your entire day, but someone else’s as well. There is no need for people to be so uptight about everything. If all of us changed our perspectives and acknowledged one another as fellow human beings, the world would be a much nicer and better place. The next time you catch yourself walking down the street, walking to your job, or walking to class, just take a look around you and observe all of the miserable people. And remember that the only way to differentiate yourself from being one of those people is to keep your head up and smile.

 

Now ask yourself, “Will I smile today?”