There once was a monk who travelled from village to village, smiling. His name was Ananda, which translated means ‘joy’ or ‘bliss’. He had no home, no money and no possessions to speak of. He wore a saffron robe, some beads, and a wonderful smile which he gave away to everyone he met. So warm, so loving and so infectious was his smile, everyone would smile in his presence.

One day the monk met a boy, also called Ananda. The boy walked beside the monk along a winding path. He asked the monk, “Are you a holy man?”

The monk smiled, “I am as holy as you are”.

The boy smiled. “Why do you not own anything?” he asked.

“My smile is my own,” the monk replied.

“But what about money, a home, a horse?” asked the boy.

“The world cannot give me my smile. My smile is between me and God,” said the monk.

The boy and the monk walked along in silence. Eventually the boy asked, “Who are you, monk?”

“I am the smile that went around the world,” explained the monk, “and my gospel is a gospel of smiles.”

“Tell me more of your gospel,” said the boy.

“Happiness is heaven. And heaven is in your heart. You are born in heaven and you are born to be happy. Happiness is your gift to the world. When you are happy you glow. You live. You give. You are generous and kind. You find love. You give loving. You are love. Above all, when you are happy you give all the things that appear to be missing whenever you are distressed,” said the monk.

The monk went on, “Happiness suits us all. It brings out the best in us. Happiness is creative. You can create a whole new world out of joy. Happiness is attractive. You draw to you wonders of the world when you smile and mean it. Happiness is miraculous. It inspires love. It brings everything it touches to a full bloom.”

“Do you always smile?” asked the boy.

“Yes, even when I am asleep,” laughed the monk.

“How do you manage to smile always?” asked the boy.

“Smiling is easy because I believe in happiness and I also believe in you,” replied the monk.

Now the monk and the boy were both smiling.