Learning to Look Beyond A Smile.

Last week, I came across an interesting post on my Facebook timeline:

“For all my friends and my relatives. Everyone will go through some hard times at some point. Life isn’t easy. Did you know the people that are the strongest are usually the most sensitive? Did you know the people who exhibit the most kindness are the first to get mistreated? Did you know the ones who take care of others all the time are usually the ones who need it the most? Did you know the three hardest things to say are I love you, I’m sorry and help me? Sometimes, just because a person looks happy, you have to look past their smile to sees how much pain they may be in. To all my friends who are going through some issues right now — let’s start an intentional avalanche. We all need positive intentions right now. May I ask my friends to kindly copy and paste this status for one hour to give a moment of support to all those who have family problems, health struggles, job issues, worries of any kind and just needs to know that someone cares.”

(This is an edited version of the original post)

It is pretty common to hear that your unusually quiet colleague is a wonderful entertainer outside work, and that person who has a wonderful network of friends and is extremely outgoing, isn’t the same when confined to the walls of her house. There are some people who are the same irrespective of the environment they are in, while there are others who choose how they want to be (or how they want others to seem them), depending on the environment they are in. Fair enough, I’d say. To each, his/her own.

But what shook me up recently was how I got to know what really happened in the lives of someone I thought I knew and how I failed to look beyond their smiles.

There is this guy G and his wife W. I was friends with both G and W even before they were married, so I knew them quite well. G is this perfect example of how a guy should be. The way he moves well with everyone, the way he always has a few words of comfort to anyone in distress, the way he always has a positive outlook and so on. W was a wonderful person, always smiling and someone with a wonderful attitude. Some of us used to wonder how a perfect match G and W were, considering the way they complemented each other. A few months ago I happened to speak to another friend who also knew W. She told me that W was under depression and was under medication. I was perplexed wondering what problem W could possibly have that led to depression. When my friend told me all that was worrying W, I was shocked. I couldn’t find the words to speak for a while.

W’s problem was G and it seemed they were on the verge of falling apart. The same G whom everyone adored wasn’t the same at home. He happened to be an egoist and a sadist of sorts. I couldn’t believe that the person I thought I knew had such a dark side that his wife could bear it no longer and had decided to let herself free from such a depressing relationship. I recollected all those smiles and laughs from all these years and I realized how many things W had hidden in her smile. I wondered why W had taken the pain to cover up all that she was going through. She probably didn’t want to wash dirty linen in public or must have thought it would have been a temporary face. But to think of that mental agony and not being able to express it freely with anyone is very disturbing.

I remember this Whatsapp status of a friend and it somehow stayed in my mind from that day — “Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of a battle.”

All of us have our own problems. God spares no one. The difference it all makes is how we handle it. If someone says they don’t have any problems, they are either lying or they have learnt to look beyond the problems. Some choose to share their problems while others choose to keep it to themselves. Some choose to be engrossed in their own woes and shut themselves off from the world, while others shun them away and don’t get absorbed in the negativity. It all depends on your reaction to the situation and considering the million ways one could react to a situation, that is what makes all of us different.

Perhaps that is why some people choose to hide them behind their smiles. Or they consider that there is a lot better to do in life than to be bogged down by their own woes. It takes guts and a lot of will power to smile when everything around you is sinking. It takes a great deal of courage to be able to mentally come out of that state and afford to smile. And that’s why they say we should always be kinder than necessary, for those who are smiling may need your smile to make their smiles brighter.

We could worry because something happened, or we could be happy that something worse didn’t happen. If at all something worse did happen, we can be relieved that the worst is all over. But if things don’t seem to be getting any better, it’s time to step up and set things right because you have only one life to live. You might as well try and enjoy whatever time there is for Heaven hides from its creatures, the book of fate and you never know when your time is up.

Originally published on my blog.