By Dr Jyots Bhattacharjee
Have you ever wondered how important a smile is? It does not cost us anything, but it is like a wonderful tonic to revive the depressed spirit of others as well as yourself. Cynics may say glumly that in this world of ours where there is such overwhelming suffering and heartaches, there is nothing to be happy. How can possibly one smile in the midst of so much calamity? As a close friend, rrating her troubles at home, told me roundly “only an imbecile like you can talk about the good effects of smiling. Possibly you have never faced any serious problem in life. That is why you are so sanguine and can talk of smiling. If you had faced half my problems you would have realized that in a life, full of suffering, one can talk only of tears and not of smile”. But she was wrong, you know. In my reasobly long life I have faced more problems and sorrow than I can recount. After all, that is the law of ture I suppose. Joy and sorrow are like two sides of a coin and they go together. I wonder if there is any person who has experienced only joy without any sorrow.
Yet I believe that with a smile one can shrug off the calamities of life and I said so to my friend; but she was not convinced. But how wrong these pessimists are! Rather they make life ten times worse with their gloomy expressions and dark predictions. Even in the most depressing situation you can cheer up a person with a smile. Once I read an article on some distinguished lady. rrating her qualities the author wrote that the moment she entered a room, it appeared as if the room blazed with several hundred power bulbs. Such was her charm and brilliance. Her smiling face always gave joy to others, as the author stated. It is difficult of course to keep smiling in the midst of innumerable problems which beset life; but what will you gain by wallowing in self-pity? You just cannot remain dejected and disconsolate forever, as in that case human life will not be worth living. We have to get out of depressions to live a full life, with hope and optimism.
Since time immemorial philosophers have harped on life’s sufferings. Yet we know that joy and sorrow are relative terms and they always go together. One will be meaningless without the other. When we talk about life’s sufferings, we should remember that there is another side of the picture as well; since if there is suffering, then there must be joy also later on. If the night is dark and stormy, the morning will surely come with light and hope. We must not forget tomorrow which will arrive with promises galore. At least let us hope so. It is hope that keeps us going through all kinds of disasters and it is indispensable for a happy life. Future is uncertain and none knows what is going to happen. Then why spend sleepless nights imagining all sorts of calamities, which would only make us more dejected?
In every cloud there is a silver living. I have found that even if I am utterly depressed and am totally sunk in misery, I brighten up immediately if somebody smiles at me. It is like a wonderful tonic which cheers up everybody and the best part of it is that it costs us nothing. Happiness is not something out there beyond our reach, but it is something within our reach. Actually it is inside us. We are often grumbling about our lack of money or for lack of beauty or for the lack of so many other things. We can find happiness in the simplest things. The other day I was looking out of my window. Some repair works were being done on the road. It was a very hot day—unbearably hot. I saw the labourers working in the sweltering heat. There were some women labourers as well. They all were working hard. At the same time they were chatting in loud voices and were laughing. One was singing—and there was I—in the cool room looking out desolately—doing nothing. It was with wonder I was looking at the workers; they were so poor, so hot under the scorching sun—how could they laugh so freely and so gaily. Then the answer hit me like a streak of lightening. They were not over ambitions and were not covetous. They were content with what they had. I said involuntarily, “My God, How happy they are”. I was ashamed of myself. I had so much in comparison to them—and yet I was utterly miserable—with real and imagiry grievances. I had almost forgotten how to smile. Happiness is fragile and elusive. We should acquire the capacity to find happiness even in the worst situation.
Our country has made abundant progress in the sphere of science and information technology. In this modern age we have obtained many advantages which our forefathers could not even dream of. Science has contributed a lot to make life much easier to maintain. We cannot possibly recount the gifts of science, since they are endless. Once to cover a distance of even 50 kilometers much preparations had to be made weeks ahead. But now travelling has been made easier and you can go round the world in the shortest possible time. You may have lunch in Mumbai and dinner in London on the same day. Science has been able to explore the space also and some experts have been able to go to the space to make various discoveries.
Persol life also has been made much cosier by science. Cooking can be done in the shortest possible time in one of these microwave ovens. LPG has made life much comfortable for the housewives. They do not have to struggle with damp wood to light the fire for cooking. Then you can contact anybody anywhere in the world instantly over your cell phone. You can watch the events occurring in the whole world on the TV screen, sitting comfortably in your armchair at home. Drugs have been discovered to cure many incurable diseases. Life span of human beings has been extended beyond expectation. These are only a few gifts of science amongst so many. turally we owe our gratitude to sciences for all their contributions for making life so very comfortable and easy.
Our country has made enormous progress in science and technology. But then where has all this progress led us? Whenever some friends meet they discuss about the world situation, about inflations, terrorism, corruption, cost of living and other socio-political predicaments. In spite of all the wonderful contributions of science we are not happy. All of us have forgotten the simple pleasures of life. We are struggling to keep pace with a fast-moving world and we have no time to admire the star-lit sky, the wonderful sight of sunrise and sunset, the colourful flowers and all the magnificent things God has given us. It is unfortute that more money and wealth a person has, less capable he becomes of enjoying the simple pleasures of life. Perhaps it is aptly said that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
German philosopher Leibnitz had declared that our world is the best of all possible worlds. He stated that God created this world because He found that this was the best of all the possible worlds He had visualized. I think it is better to think of the world as the best of all the possible worlds than to think of it as a world of sorrow and suffering. Good and evil are after all relative terms. There will be no meaning of good if there was nothing bad. Then why shouldn’t we look at the bright side instead of the gloomy aspect? We would not be able to find the joy of life unless we had experienced sorrow as well. So let us face and overcome the problems of life with a smile.
A smile can do something good instantly, but a frown can never do it. Adversity is a part of life and none can avoid it. We all know that what cannot be avoided must be endured. Then what is the use of wallowing in self-pity and making others unhappy as well? Joy and sorrow follow one another. If somebody has some bad news today he may have some good news tomorrow. That is the hope which keeps us going with optimism. I know a lady whom people stigmatize as a tragedy queen. She sees nothing good anywhere and notices only the abomible events. Whenever you meet her she will go on lamenting about her misfortune on various issues, like illness in the family, tremendous pressure on her, as her cook or the house maid had left or about her own problems. She does not seem to realise that everybody has to face these difficulties. Sometimes I have this vague suspicion that she rather enjoys to rrate her hardship or her imagiry bad luck I have never heard her saying anything good, but always goes on describing her adversities. She has become a bore and people try to avoid her. I feel sad for her, since she does not have the ability to look at the bright aspect of life. If she could only smile, perhaps she would have been happy.
I remember an event which occurred years back. I went with a friend to some LPG dealer’s office. There were a large number of people—all grumbling and demanding gas cylinders. But the booking clerk sat in stoic indifference—shaking his head and telling the customers that there was not a single cylinder left. He also said that the mes of those customers would be put in the waiting list. But those consumers were loud in protest. Yet the clerk remained totally unmoved. Eventually after a few minutes all the people left in anger. I too was edging towards the door; but my friend stopped me with a gesture. Then she gave a dazzling smile to the clerk and pleaded, “Oh please—can I have a cylinder if you have one? I have brought the old empty one back. I am in dire necessity. Only you can save me. I know, it is too much trouble for you—but “— she left the sentence unfinished and waited hopefully.
The clerk was visibly moved. He said sheepishly, “Actually there are a couple of cylinders left. But how could I satisfy all those angry consumers. If I gave one to some customers, the others would bite my head off. But you take it. Please give me your card”.
My friend gave him a melting smile and gave him such an eloquent look which seemed to say “My hero”. The clerk too was all smiles. Both were happy—the giver and the taker. My friend was happy at getting her cylinder and the clerk was happy for helping so deserving a customer. Some of you may say that it is an unscrupulous way to get your objective and unfair as well. But I don’t think so. My friend did not harm anybody in any way. She merely fascited the clerk with her smile and appeal. The poor man possibly never got a kind word from his irate customers. Hard logic does not always succeed in achieving the objective and some emotion should be attached to the rigid attitude.
So I believe that a smile is the best bribe you can offer for achieving your object—and it is neither immoral nor illegal. That is why I believe that we should cultivate our habit of smiling. A smile can succeed where a frown cannot. It can crack the hardest nut and also can make the world a far better place to live in. Then we can make ourselves and others happy. So let us smile, dear reader, and make everybody happy.