The Value Of A Smile
Today I took my dog, Luke, for a walk. It was a beautiful, quiet morning. Very few people were out and about, and I was just enjoying the peacefulness, blue sky and warm air.
As I walked past a house on my route, the front door opened, a woman walked out, and when she saw me, her face broke into a most wonderful smile, and she said “Good morning.”
I did not know her, I’ve never seen her, and this moment made me feel, well….happy. I smiled back, said “Good morning,” and added “Have a great day.”
For the remainder of my walk, I thought about the impact of a smile. I tried to imagine all of the reasons some people don’t smile….when it is such a simple, free, welcome way to add joy to someone else’s day.
First, though, I should think about why people do smile. I’m not an expert, but I think it’s because they are happy. Perhaps they are happy, in general. Life is good for them, and they have a happy life.
They may be among the people in the world who go through their days greeting people and smiling. Or, perhaps someone is happy exactly at that moment. Perhaps something good just happened. Flowers at work, a raise, a good news phone call, a date that went well the night before, a child who did something special, a friend who reached out with a caring message…. Sometimes we just catch people at a good time, and we get to be on the receiving end of their smile.
I’ve had many interactions with people who are not smiling, maybe not even returning a ‘hello.’ Passing someone on the sidewalk, approaching the checkout person at the grocery store, bumping into someone at a sporting event, just watching someone from a distance, working alongside someone at work.
Many, many people do not smile.
I’ve seen this offend others. Have you ever said to someone, “What’s your problem?”
Has someone ever said that to you?
It just so happens there may be lots of reasons a person in your presence is not smiling. Perhaps some of these reasons apply to why you are not smiling. If we were to ask someone their reason, what might they say? What might you say?
- I’m just not happy.
- I am in an unhappy relationship.
- I am in an abusive relationship.
- I have a terrible job.
- I just had a really bad moment with one of my kids.
- I just got reprimanded by my boss.
- I have no idea what my purpose is in life.
- I struggle with depression.
- I’m lonely.
- I’m going through a divorce.
- I have an illness with a bad prognosis.
- Someone close to me just died.
- Someone close to me is very ill, and their prognosis isn’t good.
- I have tremendous financial stress.
- I can’t pay my rent.
- My car just broke down, and I do not have money to pay for it.
- I have no friends.
- I struggle with anxiety.
- I’m worried.
- I am in pain.
This list is only partial! A list like this can go on and on and on.
Here is what gets tricky. As humans, women especially, we like joy. We like people who are smiling and friendly. I know it helps my day if someone smiles at me. Does it help your day?
How about if you turn that around?
Can you smile unconditionally at others?
Can you smile at others and confidently not expect a smile in return? You see, I think it’s sometimes embarrassing if I say hi to someone, smile at them….and they simply ignore me. It’s just a little embarrassing. That’s the bottom line. I feel invisible.
What about you? Is this uncomfortable for you? Or how about the issue of who goes first? Maybe you’re thinking, “I’ll say hi and smile at them if they say hi and smile at me first.” Could you go first?
You can decide to be this person. “I am going to be a person who says hi to people and who smiles at people….regardless of what I get in return. And I’ll always have the courage to go first.”
I know that can be you.