I didn't smile for a long time. I regret that

For a long period of time, maybe 15 years, I hated my wonky, misaligned teeth so much I used to put my hand in front of my face whenever I smiled. This became so automatic that when I finally got my teeth straightened at the age of 30, it took months of training to stop hiding my smile; the habit was that ingrained.

Friends, a smile is not a thing to be suppressed. It is the thing you do that makes you shine. It is the thing you do that makes a big impact on other people. It is the thing you do that improves your mood (it’s true – research shows it alters your brain activity in a way that’s consistent with a lift in mood). 

I’m annoyed at myself for hiding such a major part of what makes me sparkle for so long. And for such a painfully petty reason. I remember I even developed a ‘camera smile’ (this was in the days before digital photography, when it was much easier to avoid the camera) that didn’t involve opening my mouth! As you can probably imagine, it did not look even remotely warm nor sincere.

Remember late last year when Kim Kardashian said she avoids smiling because it causes wrinkles? There was an English woman interviewed on TV the other night who stopped smiling as a youngster for the same reason. She’s 50 now, which means she has not smiled for 40 years! I almost feel sorry for her that she’s had such a muted life. Of course, just because she’s not smiling doesn’t mean she’s unhappy – but really, what sort of happiness is that which cannot be fully and naturally expressed, and must be guarded as if it were a dangerous animal that might escape and wreak havoc?

I’m only guessing here, but I imagine that no one has ever got to the end of their life and regretted smiling and laughing so much. And as far as the wrinkle situation goes, I think Audrey Hepburn said it best when she declared that happy girls are the prettiest.