TED Conversations

Barry Landry

Secondary English Teacher, Teach for America

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If we exist in a realm of fear and insecurity as our natural state, can't smiling offer an opportunity for the world to see we are fearless?

Smiling is the window to the sub-conscious that says we are not afraid, we are not insecure, and we are positively charged with our ability to think, act, and feel without negative emotion. When we smile, we tell the world that our energy is at peace and in-acceptance of its current state,

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    May 21 2011: I don't think that a smile shows that we are fearlessness but rather that we are brave and able to confront our fears and insecurities.
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      May 22 2011: I think that the smile can show to the world that we are fearless or brave, that we are calm and in acceptance with the current state... but I think there are two at least two probabilities here:

      1) we are fearless therefore we smile (perfect scenario)
      2) we are smiling, but within we fear (our protection mode)

      So I think as long as we smile at our fears rather than for the sake of smiling to the world, a smile indeed can show that we are fearless and brave.
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    May 23 2011: Interesting question Barry. Are you suggesting that a smile will change our perception of ourselves...which I agree could happen. Or, are you suggesting the smile could change the worlds perception of us? Both? I think people intuitively know when a smile is not honest, so to try to put on a happy face for the world, when that is not what we're feeling inside, may appear to be a cover up. However, putting on a smiling face for ourselves may facilitate a change in the perception of ourselves and the world.
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    May 23 2011: i like smiles , but would i put on a smile when i feel sad inside? no. even if the world expects people to do so (and usually this dose more harm than good) facial expressions are "mirrors " of whats going on inside, just by smiling makesa little change to how you feel and think.

    and i am not convinced of the claim that "if you want to live healthier ,longer ...just smile" thats sounds to me like the speaker is trying to give a simple answer to complicated human psyches which is not true even though it sounds good.
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      May 23 2011: Hi Amily:>)
      I agree with you...I would rather wear the face that honestly reflects what I'm feeling inside. It does sound good to simply put on a smile and everything will be fine, and that is not always true. I believe everything is interconnected, so I think the smile is part of the exploration of thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and part of the process which may take us to a different place in ourselves and in the world around us:>)
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        May 24 2011: Colleen .Nice to talk to you again ; D
        among what we can do to have a heathier and a longer life ,smiling is just a very tiny part if we put it into the big picture.
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          May 24 2011: Always nice talking with you too Amily:>)
          It is the big picture we need to be aware of, otherwise, the smile does not have much meaning. I don't agree with Barry's statement that "when we smile, we tell the world that our energy is at peace and in acceptance of its current state". Many people are intuitive enough to recognize an authentic smile, so it's helpful to have at least some peace and acceptance in ourselves to be able to convince the world:>) Because all "parts" of us are interconnected, it is beneficial to have all "parts" working in conjunction with each other, to create the "big picture" you insightfully speak of Amily:>)
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    May 22 2011: The human ability to smile is a life affirming gift. All the responses above and below are right.
    Because I think that there is more we can be and understand, I believe in bringing the truth in when it might be less than welcome so that we can get a clearer picture of things.

    Yes, of course, smiling is great. It means many good things but please do not equate it with bravery or with courage unless you have really been there. Haven't you ever been in a position where you did not own a smile? Where your heart was so devasted that no amount of courage could muster one in that moment? I know I have and it was partially because I was a little too busy with real courage and with real endurance.

    Perhaps then, all the people who find it easy to smile should be going to the places and the situations where it is very difficult to smile to lend a helping smile or hand instead of just looking the other way or pretending that the people without smiles do not exist.

    I am sorry but I am not big on platitudes but rather on compassion. Smiles are needed when dealing with the broken hearted rape victims, with the cancer patient with the tube coming out of her nose who cannot keep the liquid meal replacement down, with the man who just buried his kid because of a drive by shooting, the person dying in pain when the morphine drip just doesn't cut it anymore.They could all use your bravery, your courage and your hope to sustain them until they can find that there is such a thing - such a possibilty of such an emotion that can bring forth a smile.

    Please remember though that just to take their next breath they demonstrate a gargantuan, impossibly huge and hugely inspiring amount of courage and human spirit even if they admit to some fear because what they are living is freaking scary.