On a recent NPR broadcast, Rick Steves, yes the Rick Steves, interviewed journalist Elaine Sciolino, author of La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life. I didn't catch the interview but a friend did and he told me Sciolino talked about, among other things, why the French don't smile, which made me think of a small, crumpled piece of onionskin my mother carried around in her wallet.
I don't recall how I acquired this piece of paper, but I do remember my mother always telling me to smile. It was probably during my teenage years and if so, it's because I was a moody teenager. What teenager isn't? While I've never memorized all the words and can only recall a sentence or two, I have never forgotten what it says about:
A smile costs nothing, but gives much. It enriches those who receive, without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None is so rich nor mighty that he can get along without it, and none is so poor that he can be made rich by it.
A smile creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in business, and is the countersign of friendship. It brings rest to the weary, cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and it is nature's best antidote for trouble. Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away. Some people are too tired to give you a smile. Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give.
There is no information about the author's identity but upon a short search of the Internet discovered it's by that ubiquitous and very prolific author, Anonymous.
My mother also used to say it takes more muscles to be mad, or was it grumpy, than it does to smile. I don't know if that's true but as a teenager you tend to believe what your mother tells you. I've never forgotten either.