Most people know me as an amiable kind of guy, not too good at holding a grudge, eager to get along with everybody. Smiles, handshakes, and even warm, real hugs go easy for me.

But there’s one guy for whom I have no niceness, no pleasant words, certainly no hug, not even a handshake. Look, I’m not hiding anything here—plenty of times I’ve returned his greetings with a blunt “get lost.” Or just ignored him entirely as though he does not exist.

Okay, that’s nasty. But considering the damage this guy has done to me and to my family over many years of my life—deliberately and maliciously wrecking everything I ever built up, backstabbing, ridiculing, lying and cheating—I feel my attitude is justified.

I’m not ready to forgive, either.I’m not ready to forgive. I would be putting myself at serious risk. As long he does not relent—and that seems a very distant likelihood—I would be putting myself at serious risk by doing so.

Instead, I’ve searched for years to find ways to take revenge, to hurt him as much as he has hurt me.

Just recently I found such a strategy. Something that causes him to shudder in distress and agony, to writhe in pain and anguish. And just watching that—look, I’m not proud to say this, but it’s true—that brings me great delight. And it’s so simple.

All I have to do is look him straight in the face and smile. Yes, smile, look happy—even if I’m not really feeling that way inside. Even if I’m in the throes of recovery from his latest antics and bullying. Even at those times I feel the least like smiling—look, if the actors in Hollywood can put on a show, I can do the same.

And it’s worth it. It becomes so much easier when I see how much that smile disturbs my nemesis, how paled he is by it, how much it turns his stomach to see me happy, unperturbed and calm.

Which all makes sense. After all, what’s his motive in everything he’s done to me? Nothing more than his screwy pleasure in seeing me down. Down, under his thumb, hurting through his conniving. Once I’m down, I become an easier target for more of his ploys. He can trap me, blame me, make me feel like a piece of dirt and pull me into any sort of inanity he wants.

So when he sees I’m smiling, enjoying life and celebrating it, boy, does that pain him. I can see it in his eyes, as though I’m one of those Japanese monster wasps squirting acid into the eyes of their victims. Stunned and recoiling in shock, he runs to hide back in the filth of his lair. And whaddayaknow, I hear less of him.

I’m telling this to you because this character is still at large.I’m telling you because this character is still at large. He’s a danger to all of us. Keep yourself away from him, your children away, and especially your teens. He should not be admitted to any place of worship or community event. I’m even going to reveal his identity, for the protection of the community. He goes under several names. Sometimes Yetzer Hara, sometimes Big Dark Thing, or Depression, or Sadness; or Inadequacy or Addiction; or the Beasties or the Hormones.

Whatever name he comes under, if he pops up in your life, whatever dumb excuse he gives you—and believe me, he’s a genius at dumb excuses—you gotta know that he’s only there for one reason: To clip the wings of your soul, brutally crush any motivation to move forward, strangle any inspiration you have left, and smear your guts against the pavement, leaving you to rot in the worms and maggots of self-pity and despair.

So just do as I do: Smile back. Savor the sweet taste of the ultimate revenge.

Will it solve all your problems? No. There’s still work to do—to change, to lift yourself higher. But it’s a heck of a lot easier to climb those mountains without a 500-pound schlemiel clinging to your neck. For one thing, you can start breathing again.

Sure, he may return and scream, “Idiot! Why are you smiling! Don’t you realize how stupid you look with that dumb smile? Don’t you realize how badly I’ve messed you up?”

But then you can just answer him, “I’m a Jew and I don’t serve you. I serve the One Above, in an act of love. He runs the whole wide world, and even though I have nothing to rhyme with that, I’ll smile as much as I want. Too bad, you lose.”