I’m sure some of you are wondering why I am writing about smiling when it seems like there really isn’t anything to smile about. Yesterday I had to pay three times what I normally pay when I was going to work and coming back home was the same and the bus drivers were so mean. It was quite painful but in the midst of it, I still saw the benefit of humour.
They say Nigerians are best known for one quality; knowing how to smile when suffering and it is so true. The first bus I got on yesterday, as the bus driver barked the fare at me, other passengers teased him and a smile broke out on his tough face. “She tell you say she no dey hear”, “You wan wound the poor girl’s ear ni”, several people commented. I also started laughing even though I wasn’t finding the transport fare funny at all. And the journey was a bit more pleasant. When I got to my bus stop the bus conductor was kind enough to hold my hand as I got down to stop me from falling. If you take buses regularly, you know that conductors don’t send you as long as you have paid the fare.
Coming back, I had a similar experience. I had to break my journey into two. The price the keke driver called for me would have meant one of two things; that I would have walked half the way home from the express or I’d remain stranded since I didn’t have enough money on me. Considering the hot sun, neither was an option. I pleaded with him to take a lower amount since I was not going to Ketu which was the final bus-stop. “Madam, all bus stop na the same price”, he barked. I sighed and I started contemplating walking to 7Up from Magodo…trust me, it’s quite a distance. God however touched the man’s heart and before I took five steps he called me to sit down. I could have screamed for joy on the road. An old man had just entered the keke and he said, “Shey because na woman?” I laughed and teased the old man. Throughout the journey, again, the humour made our immediate situation bearable.
The final leg of the journey involved getting on a bus and this bus conductor was like the terminator. No nonsense. But do you know what? The passengers still got him to laugh as they teased him for behaving like Hitler. I normally don’t join in bus conversations (why should I be talking to strangers?) but I did just that yesterday and I had fun too. I smiled at people and we laughed together. I got home and started to read a chapter in ‘How to win friends and influence people’ and guess what the author was talking about? The power of a smile. I could relate.
You should never underestimate the power of a smile. I realised very recently that smiles go a long way in changing people’s behaviour even very difficult Nigerians. A smile is infectious. It also communicates love and care. Except you are a saddist, there is just this natural urge to smile when people smile at you. There are times when I’ve been in not so good situations and when I see someone smiling I would say, “Why is this one even smiling sef” but sooner or later, I would find myself smiling too. It is that infectious.
A genuine smile brings a ray of hope. It makes the person who receives it feel loved; whether they choose to admit it or not. I’ve smiled at people who have looked at me back with disgust but I am sure that the smile brought a little light into their world. We are quick to condemn people for being too harsh or frowning all the time but the truth is you have no idea what they have been through. Don’t treat people badly or scowl at them because that is the way they treat you. Choose to be the bigger person. It’s not easy sometimes. There are times I’ve made rude comments to obnoxious people but that’s the exception not the rule. The Holy Spirit nicely put me in order at such times. I just choose to ignore such people.
If you rarely smile, smile more. If you think there is nothing to smile about, think about the fact that you are alive and not dead. Think about the fact that you have a God who loves you so so much. Sometimes I imagine God looking down at me with a big smile on His face. I even give God virtual hugs sometimes (Please don’t judge me). Smile at people too. You don’t know whose day you can make better just by smiling. And it does not cost you anything. To be honest, you leave with a better feeling when you smile and laugh. So as you walk in love, let a smile be a part of you constantly! 🙂