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Keeping a smile

People tell me that I have a very nice smile! It’s a compliment that means a lot to me, because smiling is something important to me.

The Tahitian smile

I have always felt “less” than others. I was a tomboy, childish, naive and reserved; I lacked a lot of self-confidence. The smile was a precious help for me to compensate for my silence and to hide my uneasiness. It allowed me to communicate when I didn’t dare to speak.

I grew up in Tahiti, and Tahitians are so cheerful and spontaneous. There, everyone is on first-name terms. Warm, welcoming and smiling, they live intensely in the moment! Tahitians have a great word: “FIU” (pronounced “fiou”) which I like to use to legitimise my lack of enthusiasm, motivation, etc. Saying “I am fiu”, it is like saying “I’m not”. To say “I am fiu” is to express your annoyance with the innocence of a child. There is no need to justify yourself: you are FIU and that’s that! “I am fiu peih…” Just saying it brings a smile to my face!

Tahitian culture is very inspiring for me. When I don’t feel well, I think of my childhood and my FENUA (the place where you feel you belong, your home, your island, your country). This word evokes many things in me: my heartland, my parents’ house… I loved going to the market. There was a floor where I could see all kinds of handicrafts and jewellery, pareos, flowery dresses, woven bags, shell wreaths, intoxicatingly scented flower wreaths, mother-of-pearl, pearls, etc. It was so colourful and lively. It was so colourful and lively! And at the same time, an authenticity and simplicity, which breathed Polynesian life into this market in Papeete! I would love to have a large collection of these flowering pareos!

My life in Tahiti was a source of joy for me, I could always see myself smiling! I feel that losing this smile would be like losing a part of my identity! That’s why I try to keep this Tahitian smile no matter what!

What is the purpose of a smile?

The smile is a universal and natural language that conveys many things. It has the power to make you happy! Talking with a smiling person is very pleasant, it puts us in a good mood, while a grumpy person is more likely to upset us… So be the one with a contagious positive emotion! Spread joy and good humour around you and leave a trail of positivity behind you.

  • Being smiley makes a person attractive and appealing: no matter how good they look and feel, people notice their smile first.
  • It’s a natural stress reliever because the more you smile, the more endorphins your brain releases. In addition, you work the muscles in the facial areas, which makes you look good!
  • Your smile can influence those around you and the person you are talking to, making them more open to communication.

Small actions to do…

  • Smile at yourself in the morning when you say good morning in the mirror! Contemplate your smile, exaggerate it and use it to think kind words about yourself! It may seem ridiculous at first but get over it and soon your real smile full of emotion will appear and connect you to your good mood.
  • Do you like taking selfies? Take a daily selfie, for yourself, with a smile!
  • Remember your little pleasures, the little things that make you feel good. It could be a lame joke from your lover… My French sentences make my darling smile, and my comic book character mimics make him laugh.
  • Look around you! Gratitude helps you to smile again. All the positive emotions around us are good for us if we let them in. The simple song of a bird, a tree that is budding, a grandmother who speaks lovingly of her offspring, a person on the phone who shouts with joy, two friends who shake hands…
  • Watching videos that make you laugh! It helps to reconnect us to our smile…
  • Remember the smiles that touched you, the smiles of your children… I remember my father’s smile. It was rare to see him smile and laugh, but when he did, it was a precious moment! A nugget! I love my brother’s smile, it warms my heart! I love my best friend’s smile, when he sees me I can feel that he is happy to see me!

Smile at life because life is taking a picture of you! You got it, tell me what made you smile today?

The power of a smile

Whatever happens, I always smile…
A little anecdote to tell you: I have always been grateful to bus drivers (because I don’t drive!). I get on… I say gratefully “Hello” with my best smile! I always did that… and one day I was alone with a bus driver and he started talking to me. I told him that I was getting a divorce and that things were not going well. And his answer surprised me: “I didn’t know you were having a hard time because you are always smiling with your children, I never thought so. When I saw you from afar, I received you with pleasure, I was almost in love with seeing you with your smile…”. I understood the power of the smile, I bring happiness to others with a simple sincere smile. This statement is one of my nuggets of happiness that I will never forget. I wish this driver a good life because he has asked to work in another city. He has his life’s journey to accomplish. I am delighted that I was a nugget of happiness for him.

Other little anecdotes, every day, on the way to school with my children, I would pass the garbage truck, I would say hello with a big smile to the one who handles the garbage, then further on, a few blocks away, a woman who is enjoying her garden… I say hello to everyone I pass on my way so early in the morning. So a year later I find them again, Mr. Garbage Man, in a bakery by chance, and he was very happy to see me, and told me that he didn’t see me in the neighbourhood anymore? I answered that I had moved (following my divorce) and we exchanged greetings… Also for the lady I met in a shuttle bus. It’s a really nice feeling, she was also surprised not to see me suddenly! It was an opportunity to find out a bit more about each other’s lives, as she is soon to be married to her partner. These people were asking about me in a caring way and I am filled with gratitude that their lives are going well.

It also shows that we are connected to other people. I don’t feel insignificant. There are people who really look at me with a heart full of kindness without knowing me and I don’t realise it.

I thank all the patients (as I am a medical secretary) who have given me nice compliments about my welcome, my kindness and my smile! Even if I had a bad night, in the morning I always try to smile at them and I am always well rewarded. Their smile helps me to keep smiling at them! It’s a wonderful vicious circle of positivity! THANK YOU!

Strive to smile no matter what because your smile has an impact on those around you. What about laughter? What about it? It also has the same effect, it’s even contagious!

Being a mum is a real joy to see my children smile at life with carefree spirit! Be inspired by them, by children in general, or even better, by yourself, when you were a child, how carefree you were, remember your childish smile!

To be meditated on…

A Smile

A smile costs nothing and produces much,
It enriches the one who receives it without impoverishing the one who gives it,
It lasts only a moment, but its memory is sometimes eternal,
No one is rich enough to do without it,
No one is poor enough not to deserve it,
It creates happiness at home, supports business,
It is the sensitive sign of friendship,
A smile gives rest to the weary,
Gives courage to the most discouraged
It cannot be bought, lent or stolen,
For it is a thing of value only from the moment it is given.
And if, however, you meet someone who can no longer smile,
Be generous and give them yours,
For no one needs a smile more
Than he who cannot give one to others.

Raoul Follereau (1903-1977)

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