"Spock, can't you smile? You're half human ..."
"Mother, humans smile at so little provocation ..."
Star Trek - Tower of Babel
Well, I think there is an issue of 'too much smiling' - especially here in America. I never was a smiley sort - then I did it 'on purpose' - flashed those brighty-whities - and people do react differently to one. But it's calculated - it's a tactic. (And yes, I have a genuine smile as well - but that's for friends or when I'm actually feeling okey dokey).
There is in America this 'over positivist' culture - things could truly suck on a gigantic scale - but you're expected to pour pink paint over it all and 'think positive!" (You have to say that in a saccharine sweet overly high mid-western female accent to really grok what I mean). Not that one should wallow, but one had to deal with what is going on with oneself honestly. However, if you even broach things honestly with people - you can be labeled 'negative' or 'a person with an attitude'. If you stick up for yourself - reasonably - soft voice - no swearing - you may still be labeled 'difficult'. People are very self-obsessed in our (US) society and don't want to be even reminded of anyone else's crap - because - I believe - it reminds them of their own existential angst.
A pox on pink paint pouring, I say!
But that's just me.
Annapurna - love love loved your post.
As to stroppiness - I always thought Kassapa was extremely stroppy - especially with Ananda. Being an arahant didn't do much for his 'personality'. I've always thought that one could be an arahant - and yet - still be unpleasant to certain people - underlying tendencies are still there. We discussed this in class last month. I also recall Ajahn Sumedho saying, 'Even arahants can be annoying''. Good ol' Ajahn Sumedho - so down to earth.
And sometimes - I think you do need to tell people if they're being a right bastard - or else they'll walk all over you - it would be nice if forbearance worked - but it usually doesn't. Metta doesn't mean being a schnook (wuss, weakling, ninny).
From a discussion I had with my teacher, he would say that refraining from calling someone a bastard would be restraint - you'd need to use that restraint in order to practise right speech. (Christ I sure do).
Jeez, that was rambly ....
But yeh - nothing wrong with smiling per se - but forced smiliness in order to ignore what's going on around you or within you - that just leads to more samsara-ing - more delusive thinking - in my opinion, of course (I think I'll go and attach to some view today ...)
And Peter - you are so right - some people are never happier than when they are miserable! I told my brother that once and he hung up the phone in a fury!