Part 1: Happiness; Chapter 4:
“It Is the Heart That Is Important” [4.3]

4.3 Those Who Smile Are Strong

President Ikeda urges us to regard difficulties as opportunities for attaining happiness and to lead positive, upbeat lives, creating hope where there is none.

Practicing Nichiren Buddhism doesn’t mean that we are immune to life’s problems. The storms of karma appear in many unexpected ways—as problems at home, at work, with our children, and so on.

But with each challenge we overcome, we carry out our human revolution and transform the destiny of our families and loved ones. In fact, trying times are opportunities to make a leap forward to greater happiness.

Life is long. Sometimes we will succeed, and sometimes we won’t. There is no need to be embarrassed by a temporary setback. The important thing is to triumph in the end, to never lose our fighting spirit, no matter how difficult the situation.

Those who remain positive and cheerful in adversity are truly strong.

When I visited the Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti [in 1992]—the national memorial to Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi—there was a large portrait of Gandhi on the wall. His wide, toothless grin conveyed an unaffected sense of humor and enjoyment.

One museum official told me that while many of the photographs of Gandhi shown abroad usually depict him with a serious, even stern expression, actually he was a person who laughed and smiled a lot. The official commented that Gandhi always said he would never have been able to survive his long and bitter struggle if he didn’t have a good sense of humor.

Gandhi endured immeasurable persecution and suffering in his struggle for India’s independence, but he was always smiling.

Those who can smile are strong. Those who lead good, positive lives are always bright and upbeat.

If you always seem stressed and gloomy, you’ll bring down everyone else around you. You can’t inspire or invigorate others that way. Precisely when things are tough, that’s the time to encourage those around you with a bright smile.

If the situation seems hopeless, create hope. Don’t depend on others. Ignite the flame of hope within your own heart.

From Nijuisseiki e no haha to ko o kataru (Dialogue on Mothers and Children in the 21st Century), vol. 3, published in Japanese in June 2000.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works under key themes.