It was an exhausting day. Physically and mentally. At 11.30am on Monday, the hot wind was sharper than ever. But there was a lot to anticipate. Excitement, happiness, enjoyment, sociability and last but not the least, memories. As I entered, there was an uncanny feeling in the atmosphere.
A surge of anxiety. Something was missing. Everyone in the room looked cordial and welcoming, but it was difficult to exchange pleasantries with Miss X. I tried my best, but connection could not be established, there was an error. After a moment’s hesitation, I tried again but it was almost like beating a dead horse. Were we different from each other? Was everyone there with a different purpose? Was it all falling on deaf ears?
After much contemplation, I found the missing link — a courteous beaming SMILE. A smile that makes you more approachable to those around you. In a world of LOL, LMAO, HaHa, ROFL, SALTS and emojis, a vibrant, radiant smile is the most underrated expression.
Many have forgotten the common courtesy in our endless rat race. Oh yes! Miss X had lot of accolades to her name, but that is like learning a skill and not remembering the basics. Imagine someone serving you a dessert without sugar or watching an advertisement with grumpy faces.
Smile is the boldest statement you can make without saying a word, that is what I heard. According to one survey, smile is the most memorable trait during your first encounter. First impression is the last impression, is it?
Thank you, please, sorry, excuse me, kindness, help, greeting others with a smile are the magical words taught in the school. Occasionally we need to introspect and see if we conform to these. The courtesy shown by others to you or vice versa, needs to be reciprocated. It is all about modelling the behaviour and expressions we expect from others.
That reminds me of a Russian folk fairy tale, ‘The Princess Who Never Smiled.’ Unlike the tale, where the poor boy makes the princess laugh through a bizarre presentation of small creatures and bugs, no prince charming will come to the rescue. The human mind is expert in making judgements.
Power of Smile
Do you know that smiling not only offers a mood boost, but it also helps our bodies release hormones like dopamine, endorphins and serotonin that provide numerous health benefits?
Watch the innocent smile of a baby; it will surely melt your heart. A doctor’s smile at a patient brings in a lot of positivity and lessens the effect of the pain. Smile at a new student, a new colleague, or a new neighbour; makes them feel welcomed and comfortable.
Spotting an old friend in the supermarket or stumbled upon old school photographs, we respond by smiling. Why? Simply because we feel better and that is the way we are wired. Smile reduces stress, smile brings more happiness, smile is a universal language that conveys warmth and friendliness; such is the power of smile. A genuine smile speaks a lot about your character.
All it takes is One Smile
How do you recognise a smiling face in a world that is masked due to coronavirus? According to research by the American psychologist Paul Ekman, humans can produce 19 different types of smiles but only one is genuine — the Duchenne smile. Seems like a Did you Know fact.
The Duchenne smile signals true enjoyment and does not only move the mouth. The two facial muscles — the zygomatic major and the orbicularis oculi — also contract. It will have your cheeks rise and the skin around your eyes bunch up, creating crow’s feet.
Secret is to practice those smiling skills and not fake it up for social media. Practice a smile that is more engaging, authentic, and not forced.
While you can research on those different types of smiles, keep a smiling face for those around you. It is a proven science that smiling has positive effects on both your mind and the body.
Let us not forget the basics and be the reason for someone’s smile today, because sometimes all it takes is just one smile. As Mother Teresa said, ‘We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.’
Reema Ahuja is an educator based in Dubai