Did you smile when you saw this? I have seen it many times and I still feel a grin spreading across my face when pull it out to enjoy. I really should get it framed and hang it where I can see it every day. My son, Ian, took this photo when he was a teenager. He had a way of seeing things no one else saw and of finding things no one else knew about, or at least, finding them first.

In other words, he saw the world through a unique lens and the rest of us benefited. Music, books, nature, ideas, and philosophy. He could always find something interesting to point out that no one else had thought of.

He saw things in people, too. Things overlooked or things unappreciated by the majority. An oddity or a quirk misunderstood turned into a thing of celebration; a reason to rejoice. Once discovered, he invited others to come along and “see” what they were missing.

Ian could also read your soul. That’s the truth. It was a gift. Forget about being a pretender. He had a way of knowing–of seeing the real story. Especially if it was a debilitating story. His specialty and his mission was to twist that story into a smile. One way or another.

Compassionate and caring, Ian wove himself into the lives of certain people with a particular purpose in mind. Eventually, that smile was born–in unexpected ways; in unexpected places; on unexpected faces.

Speaking of smiles on unexpected faces, most of you have heard the story of Rachelle Friedman this week. In every interview and every photo, there is a smile. Realistically, we know that no one smiles all the time, nor is it appropriate to do so. Regardless, here is Rachel, with so little to smile about…

Anyone can paste a smile on their face if the situation calls for it. Yet, a smile is not revered for the physicality of it, but for the light of it. When it is genuine.

My question is: Where does that authentic smile begin? How is it that some people who should be smiling, don’t–and some who have “nothing” to smile about, do?

Ian dug up some smiles from unexpected places and certainly, Rachelle found some, too.

Share your ideas about that unexpected smile of hers, or of another story about someone who does not have anything to smile about. Not apparently, anyway.

What are the characteristics which enable a person to smile, especially in difficult circumstances?