Fighting Parkinson’s, and the power of a smile

Many people with Parkinson’s get extremely self-conscious when going out in public. There is the whole concern of people staring and wondering what is wrong with you. You already are not happy about the way look or move or feel, and this exacerbates the problem. Oftentimes, the sense that people are staring causes symptoms to rage out of control…more tremors, more stiffness, more slowness, more sadness. Instead of staring at the ground as you shuffle passed people in public, what if you stood as straight as possible, looked them in the eye, and gave them a great big smile. That’s right, a smile.

Your smile will help with your recovery. One of the things about Parkinson’s is that we lose our ability to feel joy. Mostly, we are consumed with how badly we feel physically, mentally and spiritually. The feeling of joy opens our hearts and helps the dopamine flow.

First, we need to know that if we hide Parkinson’s, then Parkinson’s wins. Second, if people are staring at us it probably is because we are moving slowly and walking poorly. They are not thinking bad thoughts about us; they probably are confused. There is an easy fix to this. Look the person in the eye and smile.

And when you smile, make it a big, ear-to-ear smile, the kind of smile that sends a message to the other person that says, “Thank you for your compassion. I am okay.” This act all by itself will help open your dopamine faucet. But wait, it does not stop there — generally, smiles are infectious. Most of the time when you share a smile, you get one back.

This compounds the joy. The other person smiles back and their heart opens and feels joy.

Look at the power of your smile:
1. The way it is now. You are shuffling through the parking lot at the grocery store and sense somebody staring at you. Your tremors rage, you are stiff and slow, you look at the ground and you wish there was a hole you could go into. The other person remains confused by your situation and reaction.
2. Same scenario, big smile. You are shuffling through the parking lot at the grocery store and sense somebody staring at you. You look them in the eye and smile, your heart opens and you feel joy. They see your smile and smile back, and they feel joy. You see them smile back, and you feel even more joy than before…and here’s the proof that your joy opens your dopamine faucet a bit — your tremors do not rage, you do not slow down, you do not stiffen up, and you do not look at the ground — instead, you are looking for the next person to smile at because it feels so good.

That is the power of your smile. Oh, yes, I almost forgot. Your smile sends a message to your Parkinson’s, loud and clear, “Parkinson’s, I am not afraid of you, I will not hide you, and I will not hide from you. When you try to shake me up in public, I will fight you with a smile, feel the joy in my heart and let my dopamine flow. I have the power to heal myself, and I am!” And then give your Parkinson’s a smile…it won’t know what to do.

Here is a big smile for each and every one of you.

All my best,



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10 Responses to Fighting Parkinson’s, and the power of a smile

  1. Omigosh, Howard….what wonderful, wise and powerful words….I’m smiling back at you!

  2. meredith says:

    What a wonderful, refreshing message. It’s amazing – the simple power of a smile really works wonders! Thanks for your powerful insight, as usual, Howard.


  3. Laurie Diaz says:

    Dear everyone! Whooohoooo! I went shopping with a couple of friends yesterday. And smile I did! BIG smiles. When saying hello, seeing sales clerks or other customers…little kids….whoever. Found more energy. It astonished me!

  4. pratima says:

    hi, i can see everyone’s smile so i am happy too and smiling.Laurie you have the biggest smile.

  5. Teri says:


  6. Howard says:

    And a smile back at all of you….

  7. Leontina says:

    Buna tuturor,un zambet trist de la mine.Dupa ce am renuntat 6 zile la pastile si m=am bucurat ca tremurul a devenit mai usor ,o rigiditate mare mi=a cuprins tot corpul si aacum iau din nou pastile.Cei care nu ati luat pastile va este mai usor.GASESC EU CALEA PANA LA URMA.Va imbratisez cu drag LEO


    Hi all, a sad smile from me. 6 days after I quit the pills and I was happy to shake less, but I got a high rigidity throughout the body and now again take pills. Those who have not taken the pills are so much better off. Eventually I will find my WAY. Hugs, LEO

    • Howard says:

      Hi Leo,
      Each person is different and each day is different. You are brave to be working so hard and fighting so hard, so do not be sad. Be kind to yourself and love yourself for the perseverance you have shown on your path toward recovery and for the inspiration you have been to others. Take one of your loving hugs and hug yourself. We love you! Here is a BIG HAPPY SMILE for you.

  8. Christine says:

    Dear Leo.Dont be sad,we are all with you.

  9. nancy thomas says:

    Leo, fighting the pills is Hard, but I know you will continue to persevere and you will be Free of the drugs and then the PD. Because you are so brave, you inspire us. Don’t be hard on yourself, but celebrate how far you have come and know success is there for you. Just around the corner

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