Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.
Have you ever been thinking of someone, and as your mind wanders, you're struck by something you never noticed about them before? It can be a good friend, a casual acquaintance, or a family member, someone from the far past or from the immediate present. But something hits you that you have previously not realized.
That happened to me the other day. I was thinking of someone, and BAM! It struck me. I had never seen them smile. I never saw them have a good laugh, either, but seriously, not even a smile! I said to myself, "No. That can't be true. Everyone smiles at some point." I thought about it harder, racked my brain for memories, and it's true. I never saw them crack a smile.
I find this astounding, and more than a little disturbing. I know we all have bad days, and there are times that I don't feel like smiling. But those times are pretty rare, and I've got the laugh lines to prove it! The people I enjoy being around all love to have a good laugh, and that includes my family. We've all gone through some rough times, but we always manage to find the humor in things. My family may gather for a funeral, and we'll have our tears and sadness there, but when we have a family dinner afterwards, we inevitably end up laughing about something. I think it's natural for people to seek joy and happiness, even in the midst of tragedy, and to have that constant unsmiling grimness hovering about you must be pretty miserable. In fact, I find that the more absurd a situation gets, the more likely I am to laugh about it! We had some extremely stressful days at work sometimes, and we might buckle down and work without talking for a little while, but something's gotta give, and we'd usually end up laughing about something. (There may have been a touch of hysteria there occasionally, but just let 'er rip.) There are times that you have to work a little harder to find it, but something will turn up. You just have to look for it.
A smile will not only make you feel better, but others will take notice and probably respond in kind. My friend Eugene at work lived through the genocide in Rwanda, and many of his family members perished. Eugene has one of the most beautiful smiles I've ever seen. It lights up his entire face, and he uses it frequently. If someone can live through such horrible events and continue to smile, it should humble any of us who don't smile because we're having a tiff with someone, or something equally as trivial. I've noticed that people almost always look more attractive when they smile. A constant scowl makes me think of dark corners and black widow spiders and other ugly things. It also makes me think that the inside of the person might very well be as unpleasant as the outside. I've read that it takes more muscles and more effort to frown rather than smile. To constantly make that extra effort makes me wonder if a person just prefers to be miserable.
If someone is truly in pain, whether physical, emotional, or mental, I feel terrible for them and encourage them to take steps to get help in alleviating their suffering. If someone just enjoys being "poor pitiful me," perhaps they should reclaim their lost smile and track down that elusive sense of humor. It could change their entire outlook!