Sunday, July 31, 2016
Smile and the world smiles with you
There was a time when societal dictates favoured keeping a stiff upper lip in the face of fear or danger. Or in another venue, Don't wear your heart on your sleeve. In the era of Pride and Prejudice, women especially were expected to control their countenance and demonstrate neither glee nor misery. A bland expression was preferred and outbursts of any kind were frowned upon. Privacy was greatly valued and many indiscretions and tragedies were played out behind the lace curtains.
There is no such expectation today. Anything and everything is shared whether in a loud cell phone conversation on public transit or on Facebook or Instagram. We find out more than we want to know. Insults and barbs are traded whether the object is a previous employer or a straying lover. The internet never forgets as politicians and others have discovered to their dismay and regret.
Blandness is boring and unrealistic today. We are encouraged to share our feelings, to let it all hang out, not to bottle up anger and anxiety lest it fester and cause irreparable damage. But if you have ever consoled a friend going through a divorce or coping with a seriously ill child, you might acknowledge that the strain of unrelieved grief, even as a supportive friend, can be exhausting.
We don't wish to return to the repressive past but a middle ground can be easier to live with, especially in the company of acquaintances, co-workers and strangers. People who go through life with a positive attitude; those who smile regularly as opposed to finding fault with the world and all in it, lighten the load for all of us.