Stories of Kindness from Around the World

Measuring Success with a Smile

--by diane1, posted Aug 8, 2008
While traveling for my documentary project, HEAR US, I pulled up to a busy Phoenix intersection and stopped at a red light. An obviously homeless man began crossing in front of our paused vehicles. I was first in line and was completely preoccupied with the reality that I couldn't find my 1:00 appointment at the nearby (or so I thought) shelter. He turned toward me, pointing to the corners of his mouth, made a universally understood motion to indicate "SMILE" and stood and stared at me. 

With a snicker of someone who had been caught being overly pensive, I flashed a smile, which he recognized as sufficient to trust I'd hold that thought, and he moved on to the vehicle next to me, repeating his motions. They needed a little help, so our Mr. Smiley pointed up to the sky, circling his finger in a "divine" gesture, then stretched out his arms to indicate a worldwide expectation, and then the smile routine again. Finally, just in time for the light to change, they got it and smiled. He scooted out of the way and we moved on, me with a smile on my face that lasted longer than the red light.
Because I was trying to find an obscure location, I ended up circling around, coming up to the same intersection, this time sitting a few vehicles behind the front. I watched the end of Mr. Smiley's performance on the intersecting street, and marveled as this relentless smile-inducer scrambled to get to his next customers, our line of traffic.
Meticulously he tended to the frowning drivers and passengers of each vehicle, not satisfied until they shook off their disdain for his grungy appearance and simply smiled. Although he has no apparent way of gauging the quality of happiness he imparts, he can at least quantify the outward response--the smile, his measure of success.

My friend never made a motion indicating he needed money, perhaps because he had what money couldn't buy, the best job in the world, making people happy. His mime motions communicated more than expensive therapists, mega-bucks ad campaigns, or a pile of self-help books ever could: smile, life is short, be happy, the world is watching!
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Readers Comments

BedBug wrote: Oh, this is my favorite story so far! How wonderful! And you are very astute -- he does have the best job in the world. And apparently is very succesful at it!
makethemsmile wrote: THAT WAS VERY WONDERFUL.I CARE.
Clueless wrote: That was very touching!
I also loved what Kiran said:
"I would say the best time to smile is when you least feel like it. You'll be surprised how it suddenly releases the tension in your body & mind."
So true..
sonal wrote: the story reminds me of the saying..
"nobody is born with a smile, we are here to create it.."
smile really works wonders!!
warmth wrote: what a kind gesture by the noble soul God bless him and u.
praveen wrote: Good person by heart
pgwingo wrote: I love this story! I love to see people smile!
Nandi wrote: Dear diane1,

Thanks a million for sharing such a beautiful, inspiring and moving story. I'm touched deep within by that angel of smiles! May God bless him and may he be rewarded for doing this extraordinery work of kindness! I hope he gets home, food and all the basic necessities of life and much more!! We get worked up by a traffic sitting in our vehicles, whereas this guy, in spite of being homeless is not bugged, pained...not only that but tries to make people happy! He should have a frowned face for the condition he is in, but instead he brings smiles to frowned faces! A REAL ANGEL he is, I salute him!!Thanks once again for sharing this story with us. I love u for that!!
kiran wrote: Beautiful. I would say the best time to smile is when you least feel like it. You'll be surprised how it suddenly releases the tension in your body & mind. Smile is therapeutic. Never underestimate its significance.Keep smiling!
Adu-Bonsu wrote: Smiling is the best way which is capable of achieving anything under the sun.

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