It takes courage to smile

One recent morning, I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror like usual and I saw something different.
For years, the wrinkles in my face were smiling wrinkles. I’ve always been upbeat, and I’ve always laughed and smiled a lot. Thus the wrinkles.
But this time my wrinkles were different. My mouth was turned down and so were my wrinkles.
Of course, I know why. Life is so hard—the loss of friends, the difficult economy, a war that will not stop, friends who have hearing and vision loss, physical pain, the cost of living on a fixed income.
The list goes on, especially as you age. But life is hard for everybody right now.
Think of the job market. I never had to apply for a position in my whole life. Jobs came to me. Too many! I had difficulty choosing which ones to take.
Think of the economy. Think of the prosperous 1950s-70s. We could expect to move from a tiny apartment to a better apartment, or buy our own home. And when we bought a house, it appreciated.
Think of our health care system. Both of our children were born in Canada. The first child cost $14 for a semi-private room, the second one was free. And in the United States, medical expenses also were much, much lower at that time.
Think of the losses you had at a young age. I lost my cousin Norbert in a tragic motorcycle accident and my grandmother before I was 30. And my father before I was 40. But no friends until I was 70.
Now young people seem to have to deal with more tragic accidents and serious illnesses.
Life is just hard! That’s all you can say.
But I’m a natural optimist, so in spite of difficulties, most of my wrinkles have been laugh lines.
However, my experience Saturday morning was a wake-up call. It’s time for me to go back to smiling and laughing more!
Think what a laugh can do for you—even a fake laugh. It can lower your blood pressure, strengthen your immune system, reduce stress, protect your heart, relax you, improve brain function, elevate your mood, and turn your mouth up!
“Laughter is the ‘Best Medicine’ for Your Heart” is the title of an article on the University of Maryland Medical Center’s website.
Researcher Dr. Michael Miller says, “The ability to laugh—either naturally or as learned behavior—may have important implications in societies such as the U.S. where heart disease remains the number-one killer.
“We know that exercising, not smoking, and eating foods low in saturated fat will reduce the risk of heart disease. Perhaps regular, hearty laughter should be added to the list.”
And what easy medicine to take!
Also, remember that laughter is contagious. If you laugh, especially with a hearty laugh, other people will join you.
The same is true of a smile. Almost everyone responds to a smile. It makes their day better, as well as yours.
So every morning when you look at yourself in the bathroom mirror, give yourself a big smile and resolve to laugh! Not because life is easy. But, especially, because life is hard.
Remember, it takes courage to smile and laugh, but it’s worth it!
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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