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Is your smile 82 feet wide?: How to reflect contagious joy in our everyday world

Two women laughing
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We see smiles every day, and they make us feel good. 

When everything is falling apart, smiles are powerful. And contagious.

Last week, giant smiley faces of eighty-two feet in length were projected on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City and the House of Commons in London to “represent the bond between the two nations.” 

Research commissioned by Ciaté London found that adults in the US smile eleven times a day, amounting to 243,309 smiles over the course of their lifetime. Ciaté founder and CEO Charlotte Knight says the research shows that people enjoy smiling and smiles make a difference in our self-confidence and overall mood. 

“Particularly at times like this it’s important to stay self-confident, emotionally aware and see the positives in everyday moments by sharing smiles,” she said.

The research further showed that during our current pandemic, 49 percent believe it’s important to find things to smile about in order to stay positive and 56 percent said seeing someone else looking happy improves their mood.

Is your joy contagious?

Our countenance when we are in public speaks volumes to those around us. It’s true that laughter and smiles are contagious. Just watch some of the baby videos online. 

Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians, “Rejoice in the Lord always,” then he repeated it for emphasis, “again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).

He knew the contagious effects of joy. While imprisoned in Philippi, Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns to God, while the other prisoners listened. A great earthquake hit, and the prison cells were all opened. But, the other prisoners did not try to flee. 

The jailer and his household became believers as a result of God using two prisoners who chose to rejoice in the Lord rather than in their circumstances (Acts 16:25–34).

Jesus told his disciples, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). 

Have you ever seen a choir singing praise music with glum faces? 

Did their joyful singing make you want what they had?

When Stephen was stoned to death for his faith, a young man named Saul witnessed Stephen’s countenance and peace in the face of death (Acts 7:55–60). That young persecutor of Christians, who was later renamed Paul, wrote a great portion of the New Testament.

We never know who is watching us. But know this: our reactions and our countenance during these days of pandemic and upheaval speak loudly to those around us. 

When John and Peter spoke with boldness in the face of opposition, the rulers noted that “they had been with Jesus.”

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), not something we manufacture. And joy produces smiles. Like Paul in prison, we do not rejoice in our circumstances but in the Lord who is greater than our circumstances. 

Consider Habakkuk 3:17–18: “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength.”

Next time someone notices you, will they note you “have been with Jesus” because of your contagious joy and smile?

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