“You Should Smile More”

“You should smile more” by Jose Chavez

I’m well aware that I will be contradicting myself at some point. That’s usually what happens when you’re fighting something internal.
    I’ve been getting a lot of support about openly discussing depression. My depression, anyway. While I’m not comfortable about talking about the pile of crap that lead to my mental state I still prefer to talk about the end product, which is a man who is shy and awkward introvert that tries to be part of social circles and talks in front of large groups “for a living”. I think I’m happy, too. Depression aside I know I’m lucky with the things and people I have around me, but still it’s hard to keep that beast called depression down.
    Trying to comfort someone isn’t always easy. The harder the issue the harder it is to phrase the message you want delivered. I think because the “d” word is such a household name it’s not as hard to structure your words to get a message across. It’ll be hard to hear but for different reasons. Then there’s the “you should smile more”, crowd. The people who sum up their days with inspirational  quotes, memes and Marilyn Monroe images (there’s the few that try to keep those alive). I want to discuss the concept of smiling a bit (from my perspective) as I am known for not smiling as often as others. That’s not to say that all of the people that give that kind of advice are filling their days with minutia, just that those people don’t always know what to say and they give a very generic and at times dismissive response.
    First, smiling isn’t a command so much as it is a physical reaction or an emotional disguise. Some people who smile either do it to hide what they’re going through or as a reaction to a joke or something generally positive.. Some people smile because it’s how they go about their lives and the muscles in their face push out a smile naturally, giving the sense that they are happier than others… which isn’t always true. Telling someone to smile more doesn’t always improve how they are internally; it’s more of a benefit to the person recommending to smile vs. the person who is being told to smile. It’s like telling someone to put on makeup to cover the ugliness that is distracting the room.  It’s a comment that is void of sentiment for the most part and rarely comes off as sincere. Second, a lack of smile doesn’t mean sadness. I can be having an incredible day and smiles will come and go briefly as I don’t hold them long. I don’t like to forcibly smile in photos or in conversation if I don’t need to. A smile doesn’t represent how I’m feeling in that moment because I could be on top of the world with my favorite drink having my favorite meal and maybe crack a smile for half a second. I’m not combating smiling, I just have that “resting bitch face” everyone talks about. Though I like to call it “looking stoic as fuck”.  I appreciate the idea of a smile and what it can represent in a time of sadness. I do. But I can’t smile as often as others tell me to. I’ll never feel like it’s for me as much as it is for others. While I’m on it, telling someone to “stop being depressed” works as well as telling a rock to “stop being a rock”. It just is what it is sometimes.
    Here comes the contradiction… somewhat. I LOVE the song Smile by Charlie Chaplin. He’s one of the greatest comedic talents of all time (considering the era in which he did what he did). Here’s the Nat King Cole cover of Chaplin’s Smile.
Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you
Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile
    And I understand what he’s saying. Maybe you receive it as smiling in a physical sense. I would like to think that he means smile on the inside. Change your outlook on the situation and keep moving forward. Keep in mind that Charlie Chaplin himself wasn’t always smiling but you can see a smile when there’s not one there. Songs with a positive message are awesome. I don’t need to listen to Morrissey. My favorite artist is the Foo Fighters because of how much fun they seemingly have when performing and in their videos. I know the truth behind some of it isn’t as positive and that’s where the fake smiles come into play. But the message and how it makes me feel brightens up my day, even though the depression is still there and prominent. I’m down today but I’ll be up tomorrow and I’ll smile just as much each day. So if you see someone who doesn’t smile don’t tell them they should smile. Just give them a reason to and take no offense if they don’t smile out loud. Their smile on the inside means much more than the one you can see.
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