ISLAMABAD - Aniqa is an innocent girl who loves to smile through thick and thin. Her smile has its benefits; friends and relatives feel at ease in her presence and even strangers meet her with warm feelings. The easy, friendly attitude of others makes Aniqa feel good about herself and she ends the day with pathos.
With the looming threat of terrorism, coupled with inflation, unemployment, lack of resources (i.e. power, gas, water shortage), Pakistan is all set to observe World Smile Day on the coming Friday (October 7) along with the rest of the world.
Smiling is a simple act and yet it can help one to carry through the most challenging segments of life, Aniqa thinks. She says, “Our problems could not be solved by shedding tears over these multiple issues, rather crises, but a smile perhaps can.”
The poor- rich disparity in social classes has strengthened zero tolerance, disrespect for others, and vengeful feelings.
This is not restricted to middle to lower classes or ill-educated people but has penetrated the upper, educated class as well. A recent example of getting away with a smile was witnessed when in one of the prestigious universities of the federal capital, a male student without intention of hurting a female classmate shut the door on her and it hit her head. The girl in retaliation hit the boy’s face with her shoe in front of a classroom filled with students. The boy slapped the girl back because he thought what had happened was an accident and not his fault. The issue went to court the girl was suspended for one semester while the boy was suspended for two semesters.
To many, this issue might have been handled with a little smile and ‘forgive and forget’ attitude - the message educational institutions should impart to students.
Students commented that the unfortunate incident may have been easily averted, had both parties shown patience, maturity and sensibility. “This is not an age to react childishly and a university graduate ought to be compassionate and affectionate, a little smile can show that, no matter how depressive the situation is,” a student said.
“Smiling and being smiled at is a happy and pleasant experience. Moreover, when you get angry, you get wrinkles, and when you are smiling, you get a dimple without spending a single penny,” commented Dr Nadia who deals with patients suffering from mental disorders.
She said a smile was a tiny crooked line that made all matters straight. It temporarily diverts our attention and dissipates feelings of fear, anger, isolation and physical pain. Laughter can be the doorway to purging harmful emotions and resolving mental tension. It is a form of a therapy that encourages us to release the painful emotions of anger, fear and boredom. Laughter enables the processing of information in a new way. New perceptions can lead to different and healthier solutions.
When contacted, PIMS spokesman Dr Waseem Khawaja, confirmed that lower social standards and a sense of deprivation were the fundamental causes that made people mentally sick and react without thinking. “Medical research confirms that smiling and laughter is a powerful medicine for alleviating the impact that stressful events have on our lives and in actually preventing accidents and reversing disease. They can also help the immune system. Many researches demonstrate that the experience of smiling and laughter lowers the level of certain stress hormones and stimulates the immune system by increasing the number of activated T cells and activated T helper cells. In addition, mirthful laughter enhances the activity of natural killer cells that play a crucial role in preventing different diseases,” Khawaja elaborated, adding, “One hundred laughs are equal to ten minutes of aerobics exercise but it is easy to forget to smile in the present political and economic crises.”
A group of youngsters admitted that life came with its ups and downs but the simple act of smiling could change lives. “If that is not enough, smiling also makes us look good in the eyes of others,” they added. “Other than meeting challenges with smiles, smiling is a relatively powerful way to significantly improve one’s own life and to help the lives of others,” said Kashif Pervaiz, a student of National University of Modern Languages, quoting Mother Teresa. “I will never understand all the good that a simple smile can accomplish,” he added.
Another student said everyone could try the Mona Lisa smile or just go for the easygoing friendly one.
World Smile Day is celebrated on the first Friday in the month of October every year. The idea of World Smile Day was coined and initiated by Harvey Ball, a commercial artist from Worcester, Massachusetts. Ball is known to have created the Smiley Face in 1963. The world’s first World Smile Day was held in the year 1999 and has been held annually since.
After Harvey died in 2001, the “Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation” was created to honour his name and memory. The slogan of the Smile Foundation is “improving this world, one smile at a time.” The Foundation continues as the official sponsor of World Smile Day each year. The message of the World Smile Day 2011 is “Do an act of kindness. Help one person smile.”