Stories of Kindness from Around the World

Smile, It Can't Be That Bad

--by AsianWoman, posted Feb 6, 2010

Six Words That Changed a Life Six words - " can't be that bad." - changed Judy's life. Judy is a young woman I worked with some years ago. She was in her late twenties, maybe early thirties, more than a little overweight, and not the most stylish dresser. What was most striking about her appearance was her smile; it was always there. Anyone passing Judy in the hallway was greeted with that smile and a soft, "Hello," or, "Good Morning," in her gentle, Minnesota accent.
I happened to be with Judy one day when she had her driver's license out of her purse. The photograph on her license showed a face that looked like it had never smiled! The corners of her mouth were turned down, her face looked slack, and the eyes were dark and troubled. The overall impression was anger and deep grief. "Whoa! that really you? What in the world was going on? You look like you're mad at the world!" Judy giggled. "Yes, it's me. I used to look like that all the time."
She then shared with me her story and the six words that changed her life. Judy had moved to Tennessee to care for an invalid uncle. Her life revolved around caring for this much older and very ill man who, though grateful, offered little in the way of good company for a shy young woman.
When he died, Judy realized for the first time that she had nothing - no job skills no education, no experience with which to support herself, and no friends. Lonely, grieving, and terrified, she took a big step and enrolled in a community college CAD/CAM program. The Judy that walked the halls between classes was the Judy captured in her driver's license photo. She didn't talk, didn't smile, didn't make eye contact.
One day, however, she met an instructor in the hallway who, in passing, said, " can't be that bad." As Judy told me the story, she giggled again. "I was so embarrassed! And I didn't say anything at all. I couldn't. But I started thinking...maybe he was right." Nothing in Judy's life had changed, but she made a decision to smile anyway, to put a smile on her face without waiting for it to spontaneously show up. And so she did.
She would arrive at school and, very self-consciously at first, put a smile on her face as she walked across the parking lot. She forced herself to look up at the people she met, even if only for an instant. Over and over she repeated to herself the six words that started her down the path: " can't be that bad." Without realizing it, she said, she had begun to practice "fake it 'till you make it," acting happy even when she wasn't. "And when I did," she said, "things changed.
People stopped avoiding me. Before, people sometimes crossed the halls to walk on the other side, and if they didn't, I did. When I started smiling, even though I didn't really feel it, people reacted differently. It took a little while, but one morning, someone actually said hello to me. And I smiled for real!"
Judy later went to the instructor who had made the comment and thanked him. As you might expect, he was surprised that his almost throwaway comment had that kind of impact. Judy met his family, visited his church, and slowly developed a social network. After living in Tennessee for more than ten years, she made her first friends.
When she told me the story, she finished with, "See? You never know how you might influence someone with what you say. Those six words changed my life. When I started acting happy, I became happy. I didn't even know it was happening, but it was, and I'm so glad he told me to, ' can't be that bad.' He was wasn't that bad...and it won't ever be that bad again."
Today's Joy Juice by Judy - happiness is a choice; fake it 'till you make it if you have to; and pay attention to the words you may change someone's life.
by Linda Davenport


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Readers Comments

SmileSharer wrote: Beautiful. Absolutely 100% beautiful. Thanks for sharing! Smiles Forever, SmileSharer
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Kaviraj wrote: Nice to hear that how a simple word “smile’ changed your life.

Life is to live happily and not in deep sorrow. Now joy juice i will request you to move one step ahead and whenever possible laugh as much as you can.

What can laughter do?

1 . lower blood pressure
2 . increase vascular blood flow and oxygenation of the blood
3 . give a workout to the diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg, and back muscles
4 . reduce certain stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline
5 . increase the response of tumor- and disease-killing cells such as gamma-interferon and t-cells
6 . defend against respiratory infections–even reducing the frequency of colds–by immunoglobulin in saliva.

7 . increase memory and learning; in a study at johns hopkins university medical school, humor during instruction led to increased test scores
8 . improve alertness, creativity, and memory

Smilingly yours
Darlene S wrote: Great advise. Works in business and personal settings. None of us want to do business with a unhappy person, nor do we want to wake up everyday with one. I am putting to the test. Thanks
Nina S. wrote: What a great, inspirational, instructive, heart-warming story.

Thanks so much. It works if you work it.

Ndina wrote: This is inspiring, i have also experienced that if you just smile even if there is a battle going on in you life, practice it more and more, you will experience real happiness, even if you smile feels fake the first time. Just smile, you wont feel that battle anymore. Your smile will chase it away. And if you smile to someone who feels realy down, that person will also feel different. A smile is very powerful. Thanks for the article.
Laura(: wrote: I think this is very true!

You should smile all the time wheater you mean it or not.

Whenever you're sad or mad. You always bring someone down. And thats badd! You dont want that to happen.

"smile. Its not that bad"-ilike that qoute(:
Candy Marie wrote: Excellent!

delaram wrote: Smile! I loved this story! And how a simple smile can inspire us and be inspiring for others too.

Joy, delaram
Bernadette wrote: And when that smile reaches up and soars thru your eyes then wow! The fireworks really begin to go off. Contagious, again.

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