In the same way that darkness isn't real and is just an absence of light. A smile is a conscious choice to not allow yourself to give in.
A rather brutal example.
I know a lot of people who are unhappy right now, whether because of their work, relationships, pandemic, illness, loss of a loved one etc. Some of them CHOOSE to spend their time bemoaning their fate. Blaming everything around them, posting about and sharing their situations to anyone who will listen and fuel that fire of negativity, Confirming to them they have been wronged and their unhappiness is valid. Which is fine that's their choice and how they choose the world to see them.
Then I know a lady who has been undergoing Chemotherapy over the last few months, battling cancer. Fighting hard and sharing her experience. Mostly with a smile. Mostly with a brave determination to show her reality. I imagine she's far from HAPPY about it. She doesn't want to be doing this, she wants to be healthy carefree, taking long dog walks and enjoying her life. But instead she chooses to share her experience with brutal honesty and a smile.
My own current situation is dwarfed into insignificance by what I see her going through.
Like many of you I'm not 'OK' about the last year. The life I was expecting to live has changed. I'm no longer part of a couple, a pair, a marriage. The hopes and dreams I once had for a future have disappeared and changed. Am I 'HAPPY' about it ...FUCK NO. But am I blaming the world around me and everyone else, also NO. I'm simply getting used to a new way of living, a new set of habits and taking care of my own needs (and my dogs of course)
Could I sit around and be sad, drinking myself into a dreamless sleep, forgetting about my work, my friends, my dogs and family? YES.
Could I post for sympathy on Social Media? Hoping for 'You OK Hun' Comments? And just general attention to combat the intense loneliness i often feel. YES.
Could I be mean, sad, unkind and so selfishly wrapped up in my own little world that I don't bother with anyone else YES.
Instead I CHOOSE to wear a smile and meet the world and all my problems head on. I am stronger than my fears, stronger than my doubts and a pity party will not help me get through life. It will simply put me in an endless cycle of despair and sadness.
The Smile I Choose to wear doesn't mean I'm OK. It doesn't mean I'm Happy. It just means I'm choosing to dig deep and overcome.
Look for those friends and family members who always keep smiling through the shit times, who always have a cheerful word and positive outlook. Ask them if they are OK. Even if they are (or aren't and just don't want to show it) It will mean a hell of a lot to them.
Remember that none of us want to feel irrelevant . We all want meaning and whether that meaning is on the surface or at a deeper level, it still matters.