So, during the past few days, I've been thinking a lot about smiling. This might sound weird, but who cares? I think of all kinds of things.
Lately, every time I go to a supermarket or a store, I make sure that I smile at the cashier and make direct eye-contact. (This is part of a much bigger thing that I've been lately enamored of, but more on that later.)
What I've found when I've done this is that I get much better treatment from these people, and I get a smile back!! There seems to be a very innate response to seeing a smile, and this seems to occur in all of us. Of course, I have to clarify. I'm talking about the kind of smile that grows out of sincerity, kindness, and gratitude. If, for example, you are smiling just to flirt. This is another thing entirely (and a whole other blog post).
To me, a smile is a nonverbal way of giving kindness. Right now, I'm all about carrying out random acts of kindness--to be thoughtful, generous, sincere, and caring particularly without wanting anything in return. I feel that our world is in desperate need of more kindness.
For every act of violence and hatred, for every condemnation and disrespectful dismissal, we must in every way fight back with kindness. Besides, I know what it's like to go through a long, tiresome day at work or to be in a funk. When I see a smile, I can't help but do so in return. There's too much misery in this world. We all deserve much better than misery.
There is great power in a warm and sincere smile that is freely given. This is a power I believe that we all have. By all means, use your power, and smile.
Last week, I bought a giraffe. That's right. I bought a giraffe. Over the last couple of weeks, I noticed a large antique mall that I had never visited before off of Wedgewood Ave. in downtown Nashville. I like to attack antique shops to look for a cool painting or two. When I finally went into this place, I had walked through each booth growing more and more disappointed at not finding ANY artwork that appealed to me.
Then, at one point, I reached a large corner booth and started to glare at every object, as I've been prone to doing lately. There was a sizable wooden dining table in the middle of everything, and there she stood. I was surprised that I didn't notice her first because she's a little bit tall. Adorned in pastel green and blue stripes, I just marveled at her. I have a fondness for objects that have a fun and whimsical quality about them. She looked like she just stepped off a boat that came from an island with a magical forest. Standing at a lanky height of 3'4", she had a formidable presence about her.
I wanted her, but I thought to myself, "Asian, what in the world would you do with a giraffe?". Her $12 price tag wasn't already enough to convince me to buy her, and so, I decided to walk around some more and think about it. I'm not one to spend my money frivolously, and so, every cent is carefully doled out.
I whipped around to the front of the building where I found an old piano. One of the store's clerks invited me to play, and I briefly did. Afterwards, I mentioned my interest in the giraffe, and he said something that sealed the deal. He said, sure, she will not have much practical usefulness, but, will she make you happy?
Part of the problem with reading about happiness is that there are so many peripheral goodies to dive into. If happiness literature itself is like the strawberry field I alluded to (You are a Happiness Factory), then the related stuff is like a blueberry field right next to the strawberry one. It's all delicious and leads me to be happier - which in the end, is the goal of this month.
My first practical tip was mastering anger and the second one that's gained traction is smiling. Just smiling, the act of turning my lips upward is like a cleansing of the soul. My life is like a dirty car windshield and smiling cleans it and everything sparkles afterwards. It doesn't matter when I smile either. Smiling when I'm a little happy makes me happier, when I'm a lot happy it also makes me happier. It's become like a drug. If my face freezes like this like my mother warned, I'll be too happy to care.
There are also scientific results about smiling. In this TEDTalk, Ron Gutman highlights some:
Does smiling make you happier, do happier people smile? Researchers think that smiling does make you happier rather than happy people smiling, but does it matter? Go ahead and see for yourself.