Chapter 8. Smiling


A person who’s happy (without a thought of harming others) is beautiful. All the more so when the person is smiling. A field in the sun, a sunny room (unless it’s dreadfully hot) is beautiful. All the more so when wildflowers bloom.


If you aren’t going to smile on a sidewalk on a bus at a shop in an office bank, café, or bar maybe someone else will smile. Ah, the life, when you can rely on the smiles of strangers walking lightly anywhere and anytime you fancy and when strangers can receive your gracious smile without asking.

Warm puppy

The Declaration of Independence says all persons have the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness so it would be useful to know whether happiness really is a warm puppy. (Thank you, Charles M. Schulz.) Alternatively, we can rule out the satirical assertion (thank you, John Lennon) that happiness is a warm gun, unless it were metaphorical, and then the intent would depend on what his “gun” referred to.

Famous smiles

The Chesire cat couldn’t hide its grin even when it was wearing thin. People ask why Mona Lisa smiles; they don’t wonder how long she had to keep it up. The Buddha smiles to show his joy in simplicity, his peace and enlightenment. George Washington probably didn’t want to show his lack of teeth. Victor Hugo’s Gwynplaine was the legitimate heir who had been abducted and disfigured, by the evil doctor Hardquannone so that his face had a perpetual grin, and he may have inspired the face, in Batman comic books, of the Joker. Harvey Ross Ball designed the smiley face in Worcester, Massachusetts. It’s been used to sell products all over the world and is now the symbol of World Smile Day.


Physiologically, we have two sets of muscles that we use to smile. Zygomaticus major muscles raise the corners of the mouth, and orbicularis oculi muscles raise the cheeks to form wrinkles around the eyes.

The smile of Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong-un smiles when he murders his brother, his uncle and his uncle’s family, and anyone else who opposes him. Reportedly, he also smiles when he meets Donald Trump. I’d like to hear what he mutters when Trump’s not looking.