Making People Happy Since 2007

by Tom Swift

We passed a young woman on our walk last night. She walked with her head down. Her head, aside from her face, was covered by a snug-fitting a hoodie. Her head never came up — she could see, I presume, the sidewalk a few feet in front of her and that is about it. I am certain she saw my dog, however, for her eyes stayed on him for some steps, and, at the moment of passing, she looked straight down at him and smiled.

There are significant health benefits to a hearty smile: pain relief, stress relief, improved mood, and lower blood pressure among them. Smiling might, in fact, enhance longevity.

I think of that woman. I think, too, of the all the other people my dog has made smile while we have been out and about: whether we pass a woman, a man, a family on the street, whether we see the faces of kids light up in the back seat of their parents’s cars (“look Mom!” they will say and point at him), or whether we are in a store as we were the day before and a woman walked over expressly to pet him a second time (if you own a shop and you let me bring my dog inside you have made at least one additional regular customer). It would be impossible to calculate … yet in more than eleven years of walking and driving and shopping and sitting on park benches … you would have to say the number of people my dog has made smile is easily in the thousands.

Every part affects the whole. Thousands of people who otherwise might not have had a reason are given a moment of pain relief, stress relief, a break from their depression, a boost in in their mood, all by the creature at end of the leash in my hand. Consider the total chemical-biological reaction in the world that represents.

That right there makes me raise high the corners of my own mouth.