“Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
The other day, while I was getting cash from an ATM, I smiled at an adorable toddler standing with her father at the machine next to me.
She had this huge grin on her face, and she actually waved at me from two feet away, so I couldn’t help but smile in return.
Just then, she pulled on her father’s leg and giggled the words, “Why does everyone like me?”
He responded, “Because you’re a beautiful little girl!”
It was a simple, heartwarming moment, because I could tell from her bashful yet proud expression that she internalized and believed this, as I wish all children could.
I wondered if strangers frequently smiled at her because of her cheery cherubic face, leading her to conclude that everyone likes her.
And I hoped she’d hold onto that simple conclusion forever, so she’d never doubt her inner light, and as a consequence, shine it often.
For many kids, confidence and joy come so easily. They have an innocence about them—a sense of possibility and wonder. They don’t dwell on what happened yesterday. They don’t obsess over what’s coming tomorrow and worry that they can’t handle it.
And they haven’t yet learned to question themselves, not like we do as adults.
I wonder what it would look like to recapture that self-belief and joy. Kids make it look so simple.
Maybe that’s the point. Maybe we could feel that same sense of self-assurance and presence if we stopped burying ourselves under the layers of everything that’s happened, and chose instead to simply be in the moment.
Maybe we could believe in ourselves more fully if we also looked for signs to confirm our worth and beauty; if we chose to recognize people smiling at us, believing in us, confiding in us, depending on us.
Maybe we just need to step in where our parents may or may not have left off, and remind us ourselves as often as possible that we are beautiful—and the best way to show it is to smile.