The following is a translation of “Itsumo waraeru kokoro de aritai” by Isamu Fujita from Ohanashi goju hassen, published in 2004 in Japanese by the Tenrikyo Young Men’s Association. Translation originally posted at Tenrikyo Forum on March 12, 2007.
A Mind That Is Quick to Smile and Laugh
by Isamu Fujita
There is a well-known proverb, “Laughter is the best medicine.” We are told that laughing relaxes the muscles of the chest and face, lowers blood pressure, and makes us look younger. It is said that laughter is good for our health. There is a Chinese proverb that goes, “Laughing once makes you a year younger; losing your temper once makes you a year older.” Losing our temper raises our blood pressure, makes our face contort, and ages us before our time.
A doctor once told me, “Laughter is a medicine far more effective than the strongest vitamin supplement.” My nephew happens to be a doctor at Keio University Hospital and he is never short of laughter. He looks younger than he really is and fortune seems to always smile upon him.
There is also a proverb that goes, “It is impossible to aim an arrow at a smiling face.” Even if are about to lose our temper with someone, if he or she smiles cheerfully back at us, we find that our anger goes away. Although an insincere smile is easily recognized and has the opposite effect, an innocent smile has the power to charm another’s anger.
Another proverb goes, “Fortune comes in at the merry gate.” Fortune smiles upon a person who is cheerful and blesses his or her household accordingly. Fortune rarely visits a household full of grumpy people. One can say laughter and cheerfulness reflects the truth of joining.
We are taught that God created humans and the world in which we live to see us attain the Joyous Life and share in this joy. Laughter has a strong relationship with the Joyous Life. Come to think of it, I have heard that no other animal that is able to smile and laugh like we do.
Then, what can we do to become more cheerful? If we only are concerned about ourselves, we can only smile and laugh when things go in our favor. We are unable to find joy when things go unfavorably. A self-centered person rarely laughs. A person who is flexible and meets nature halfway laughs more. Ultimately, once we realize that physical disorders and other troubles — things which most people would like to avoid as much as possible — come from God’s compassionate guidance, we can find joy in any situation.
A person with a short temper is simple-minded. One easily is able to see where such a person is coming from. A person who is constantly smiling, on the other hand, is difficult to size up. A smile can only come from a broadminded person and is a sign of profound spiritual substance.
I encourage everyone to live a life full of joy. That is because smiles and laughter can only emerge out of one’s true conviction in God.
On the author
Isamu Fujita 藤田雄士 (1917–1992): Served as head minister of Kumaru Bunkyokai 空丸分教会 and staff minister of Saikai Daikyokai. Lecturer at Tenri University.
I must admit I’m not so sure about Rev. Fujita’s remark about how anger tends to disappear when someone smiles at us. I recently lost my temper with a co-worker recently and the fact that he was still grinning like an idiot at me pissed me off even more!
Makes me wonder: Am I an exception? Is my temper really that exceptionally bad? Just typing out loud, I don’t really have anything insightful to add here.
- Next installment in this series: Words That Benefit Others
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.