Bring smiles back By Hassnain Javed

We often get to hear ‘smile/laughter is the best medicine’. Now there is no one who can deny this saying. Because we all know it is nothing else then true. But how come our smiles have gradually disappeared with the time? Why do people keep straight or hard faces, with no smile on? For what reason(s) have we left our effective smiles behind?

Giving charity is an act that has been in common for a long time now. On every television channel we see charity appeals nowadays. If one is asking charity for the Africans which are dying from the hunger, the other one is asking it for the flood which has threatened East-Asia. Calls from all over the world are being received. One donates ₤50 pounds, while the other one is donating €100 euros out of pity and of course to do a good deed. It sounds very logical that we all want to help those needy. We try to place ourselves in their (victims) places. When this unpleasant and frightful feeling overcomes us, it makes one feel terrible to see his fellow man struggling in difficulty. The question here arises that if we all as a unity donate this much money, where does all the donated money go and why does it not reach the victims safely and completely? I will not blame all charities, because there are some which are performing their work with all faith and honesty. But the most keep some percentage of all the donations for themselves, which is a huge amount.

All of us know Bill Gates as the CEO of Microsoft. He also runs a charitable organization which he named to himself and his wife ‘Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’. They annually give away $36.7 billion dollars in charity. Also INGKA, a Dutch charitable organization in Leiden, every year donates money. This is the second largest foundation in the world. The INGKA annually donates $36 billion dollars, whereas the donation amount of 2010 contains €45 million Euros with innovation as purpose.

Another clear example is the massive earthquake which took place on Saturday 8th of October 2005 in Northern Pakistan, ranging a magnitude of 7.6. The indication of the killed people was around 80,000 and at least 50,000 victims were injured. Not only inhabitants of each country, but also governments gave millions of dollars for help. To be precise, the amount alone given by the US by January 2006 to Pakistan was $129,187,823 dollars. Anyhow, the more we get, the less we count in this country. With this money the whole of the affected area could have been reconstructed thrice?! Compared to this, the whole of the world is being helped nowadays. But still we see no global economical change.

Referring back to the topic here, I would like to focus your attention on the following 2 Hadith of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) regarding charity and smile.

The first Hadith is from Fiqh us Sunnah, volume 2, Hadith number 98;

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many…enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.”

The second Hadith is from Sunan of Abu Dawood, Hadith number 1889;

“Do not abuse anyone. Do not look down upon any good work, and when you speak to your brother, show him a cheerful face.”

From these Hadith we learn that setting up a pleasant and lively face itself is a charity.

All we forget to do the whole day is to talk friendly to everyone and to give the others a smile. Where have we left it behind? And why? We fulfill our duty by giving charity but we forget to give a simple smile, without knowing that our smiles are very much stronger then the donated money. A smile has much more effect.

Also scientifically seen smiling has a lot of benefits. But what is the science behind it and why should we smile? The expression of our emotion is the state of our mind. It is scientifically proven that a smile can improve one’s mental state. By smiling you show others that you are feeling happy. After waking up in the morning the first act everyone does, is smiling. Yes, all of us start our day with a smile, no matter how one is feeling like. How? The mouth muscles curl up while brushing the teeth. I would like to call this a warming up exercise for the rest of the day. Because we always warm up a muscle so we can make long use of it. Researches bring out that a chocolate bar would do the same work as a smile. It also works like a drug, so it relaxes one and does the job of a natural painkiller. Dr. Clifford C. Kuhn says that smiling should be enough to treat mental illness like anxiety or depression.

Dr. Mark Stibich, Chief scientific officer at Xenex Healthcare Services, says that there are several health benefits of smiling. One of them is that smiling strengthens our immune system. It releases cells in the body that relieve you from stress and lower the blood pressure. In addition, it helps us fight diseases and another benefit is that you spread positive impulses in your environment only by smiling. It is a positive way to see life.

Charles Darwin, the renowned naturalist, also very well known for his human evolution theory, did in 1872 a research on the reflexes of an emotion and its influence.

He stated that an emotion intensifies when you express it. This obviously means that your emotion would have an influence on yourself and the other person, if you express it. So as written earlier, a smile has a positive influence on your environment. Robert Boleslaw Zajonc, a social psychologist, known for his researches on the social and cognitive processes, took interest in Charles Darwin’s statement on the connection between the facial expression and the mental state. He agreed on the fact that emotion was influenced when expressed. He also said that the blood temperature which flows to the brain would change when a facial expression was shown. He did a research on the facial expression whether a fake or a real expression would bring a change in the blood temperature. Unfortunately he couldn’t come to any conclusion. Apart from this, my experience says that a real laughter does increase my body temperature, so it does with the blood temperature. Now you decide it for yourself.

Another famous psychologist, William James, stated that emotion involves more than only the human brain. It works for the whole body, especially for the face where emotion can be seen clearly.

Nowadays there are lots of organizations who run programs for, for example, cancer patients as the aim to give them a good time. Here I would like to mention an international service club Rotary International. Recently the quarter in Lahore, Rotaract Club of Lahore Garrison, launched a project named ‘bring smiles back’ which has been awarded as the best project of June 2011. In this project Rotaractors went to the Children Hospital Lahore along with his Rotary team. Each member of the team bought gifts for the children from his own budget. They did this with their own free will. By doing this they reached their aim, which was to bring a smile on those children’s innocent faces. Earlier they also visited the Jinnah Hospital Lahore. This project is going to be continued in the future. Isn’t this a good example for us to bring back the smile in our lives? We only can spread a smile when we have and own it ourselves. A smile is priceless. We have to find and see the social aspects of life to increase smiling. Let’s unite and have one aim; to ‘bring smiles back.’