A woman with glasses smiling

We’ve all encountered strangers we’ll never forget. Throughout time, I’ve met countless men and women who’ve left deep impressions on me—sometimes due to a profound remark, an act of kindness or a simple smile. 

There’s one man I remember for all three. I used to live near the beach and went on frequent walks there. On one particular morning, I went out and sauntered along the boardwalk, with my face down and spirits low. It had been a rough week, and I was feeling fatigued, worn, anxious, uncomfortable and unattractive. Wallowing in dejection, I meandered up and down the beach, looking up once in a while to glance at the people who passed and give them weak, half-hearted smiles. 

After giving one such look to a passing rollerblader, I was surprised to see him turn around a few moments later and approach me. With complete seriousness, he stopped and said, “I just wanted to thank you for smiling at me. It made my day a lot better.” 

“I just wanted to thank you for smiling at me. It made my day a lot better.” 

I almost couldn’t believe it. I wondered how such a small thing could have even been noticed, but his genuineness was undeniable. I recalled the words of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. “A word or a smile is often enough to put fresh life in a despondent soul.” I knew them to be true in that moment—both for him and for me. 

We’ve all at some point given into the lie that our worth comes from how we look, our statuses or what we have to give. In this instance, all I had was a smile—and that smile was enough. It made a difference.

An authentic smile, no matter how small, has incredible power to communicate love, warmth and acceptance to the people around us, including those most in need. So much is communicated in this simple expression that we’ll often never know how such a small gesture can affect those in our lives. 

An authentic smile, no matter how small, has incredible power to communicate love, warmth and acceptance.

The best part is, a smile is something we are all capable of giving, at all points of our lives, even when we feel our worst. This is not to suggest that we should smile all the time, of course, as it wouldn’t be natural or genuine, but it’s something to think about.

Perhaps the next time we find ourselves having a tough week or even just the next time we’re out running errands, we can remember this often-forgotten, but universal truth. Your smile is beautiful, and it is a gift.

Has a smile ever changed your day for the better? What is one simple way you can show kindness to others?

Image via Jason Barbagelott, Darling Issue No. 19

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