Did you know the word "smile" has no accurate synonyms? There's "Grin," of course, but a grin is usually a reaction to something, and the word suggests some effort on the part of the face. A genuine smile flows from within you. It's a spontaneous phenomenon, as unbidden as a sunrise and natural as a rainbow.
Maybe the past several years on the planet have made everyone a little cynical. (I know my own inner hipster just winced when it heard me compare a smile to a rainbow.) I'm not saying it's been all that bleak. Even during the depths of the recession our country knew how to have a few laughs, but for the most part the American mood, at least defined by the media, has been "grin and bear it."
Here in New Hampshire, the birthplace of both Pollyanna and Sarah Silverman, we like to define our own sense of good humor. So rather than take anyone's word for it, we decided to take a reading on the Granite State smile-o-meter. We put a crack team together and set them out to comb the state, looking for the biggest smiles and asking people what the heck there is out there – in a weak economy with climate change looming and wildfires burning and endless wars raging and political gridlock grinding – to smile about.
Turns out just about everyone we met had a good reason to smile, so we captured as many of them as we could and collected them into the article that you can see here. It turned out to be an uplifting experience, even for my inner hipster, and we left so many smiles unpublished and so many stories untold that now we're thinking about turning the project into a book.
With that in mind, we're inviting all of you, our readers, to send us your own best smiles, captured on camera, and a short answer to the question: What's your reason to smile? If you can't think of one right now, maybe you will once you've thumbed through this issue. We'll publish all the responses that we receive with the online version of this story and may select a few to single out in future issues.
My mom used to tell me "a smile is its own reward" so you really shouldn't need an incentive to participate, but I do have a particularly cool prize for the very best smile photo (and reason) we receive by August 31 – extra points for creatively involving New Hampshire themes, icons and locations into your photo.
Send them to email@example.com or, if you prefer, drop them in the mail to me at NH Magazine, 150 Dow St., Manchester, NH 03101.
And keep smiling.