Do You Know How to Smile?

Jan 2, 2014 | Family Life

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A smile says a lot, even from our dogs. Not too long ago I visited my ala mater and was shocked at what I saw on faces. As I drove up 7th street to go to the Student Union all I saw were frowns. Seriously, not a single smile. The funny thing was is that all the girls were wearing the same kind of outfit. That made me smile!

In Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People, a book every young twenty-something should read, Dale says “The expression on one’s face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one’s back.”

Not only that but Dale also mentions what Professor James V McConnell, a psychologist at the University of Michigan says about smiling, “People who smile tend to manage, teach and sell more effectively, and to raise happier children.”

What’s up at college campuses?

When I got home from my campus visit, I told my recruiter friend who visits many college campuses what I experienced and how sad I was about the emotionless students. She told me that it isn’t just happening there, the ‘no smiling’ thing is happening on other campuses too.

I told her that I even did a smile test in the women’s restroom, you know what I’m talking about….you smile at someone and they smile back? Well, that’s what is suppose to happen, but it didn’t work. I felt invisible. And shocked for that matter. So I tried again in the hallway. Still nothing! When I went outside, I tried again. Not even a look in the eyes! This was getting quite comical. I must have looked silly smiling at people, but not getting a single smile back.

What could be the cause?

When I saw all these students looking like drones, they had no emotion just blank stares as if they were all suffering from vitamin D deficiency.  At first, I thought they were all depressed or stressed. Maybe they failed an exam or they stayed at the bar too late the night before. But all of them? What gives?

Then I thought of a more educational reason, I blamed the frowns on two things. Social networking and their incompetence to know how to interact with people face to face. It was like they were afraid to smile or they didn’t know-how. Maybe that’s a little extreme, but with social media and social distancing going on people may very well be afraid to show their real self out in the world.

What’s the big deal about a smile?

Smiling is a natural, automatic expression we reveal when we are happy or when we feel good. Psychology Today says that smiling releases endorphins, hormones that make us feel good. We need to smile to stay sane!

When I was in college I remember a time when I was walking through the Arboretum to get to class and a stranger smiled at me. As a natural response, I immediately smiled back. In fact, I remember my smile was over-exaggerated because I was so shocked he smiled! Ha ha ha!

The effects of a stranger giving YOU a smile is loving. I even remember telling my roommates that some random guy smiled at me, not like a slimy-lets-go-on-a-date look, but a ‘hey, hope you’re having a nice day’ kind of smile. Smiling makes us feel good and it boosts our confidence.

I didn’t know how to smile!

In Kindergarten I didn’t know how to smile. Yep. I had no idea. My sisters tried to teach me but I just couldn’t get the corners of my mouth to go up on cue. School picture day was coming up and I so desperately wanted to smile, but every time I tried my lips clamped shut and the corners of my mouth turned down. I tried so hard!

With lots of tickling by my sisters in front of the mirror, I finally understood the smile. By 3rd grade, I was smiling on demand. Yes, it apparently took me that long to get it down. Who would have known in my Senior year in high school I got voted ‘best smile’. 🙂 

Make a difference and watch what happens!

Brighten someone’s day, smile at them. Smile at your kids. Your children need to see that you are happy. Even if you’re not having a good day, still show them you can smile. You deserve to feel good and they deserve it too. Smiling says many things beyond what words, e-mails, tweets, texts, or instant messaging could say.

When you smile, people will be curious about who you are because you look happy. People seek happiness and they want whatever is making you show your teeth. Let’s put our phones down, take our earbuds out, and pay attention to people walking to class or in the grocery store, heck even in the car next to you. Smile and see what they do in return.

Last but not least, keep on smiling before you forget how to do it, it really does make life a lot more rewarding. Don’t forget to check out Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People!

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