The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a woman in my 40s, and I have a job that requires me to keep smiling, but I’m worried because I can’t do it well.
When I was young, I didn’t laugh or smile very often. When I was a high school student, a friend of mine told me that my smile looked “unpleasant.” I’ve never forgotten that.
I also have more and more problems at home that make me feel depressed, so I don’t feel like smiling.
However, I need to smile at work. So I train myself to smile. In the morning, in front of a mirror, I lift the corners of my mouth. I also read books about how to adopt a more positive outlook on life so you can smile.
I think some people keep smiling even though they’re in a tough situation. What mind-set should I have to be like these people?
I also wonder how I can work on putting on a great smile. If possible, I want to look charming while I smile. Any ideas would be welcome.
Dear Ms. W:
We all want to keep smiling, as it’s a symbol of being filled with happiness.
So can we feel happy if we force ourselves to smile? It’s a difficult question. Even if we work on our smiles in front of a mirror, we just end up seeing our own images that look stiff and unnatural because we don’t smile from the bottom of our hearts. So it won’t cheer us up.
You envy people who can always keep smiling, but nobody can feel happy all the time. Even though we’re fortunate enough not to be unhappy, our feelings of happiness don’t last long if we notice someone close to us is unhappy. People feel pain when seeing other people’s pain. After all, it’s impossible for us all to be happy only by ourselves.
So considering human nature, if there’s a time when we can smile naturally, it might when we sit next to a person who is crushed with grief and say to the person, “I understand you’re in a tough situation, but we’ll keep going together.”
To console other people, we can smile gently, even if we’re also in the middle of unhappiness. So keep looking at the people around you, not at yourself in a mirror.