Close Encounters with A Smile
Check out the recent Talk Amongst Ourselves Podcast on this topic:
WHAT SMILING DOES FOR YOU
They say when you are having a stressful day to put a pen or pencil in you mouth horizontally because it makes your brain think you are smiling and alleviates stress. I know it works because I have used this tactic during my college years when I would be studying for a test and I could feel a stress headache coming on.
From what I understand, the messages a smile sends to the brain activates the pleasure & reward mechanisms and produces feelings of happiness, tranquility and comfort. Your body feels like it just won the lottery and ready to face what ever comes your way with positivity and focus.
WHAT SMILING DOES FOR OUR CULTURE
I have noticed over the course of my 41 years on this earth that the simplest kindest thing you could do for another person especially a stranger in passing is gaining eye contact with them then say hello (acknowledging their existence) with a smile (a gift with no expectations).
When I was in college at what is now known as University of Northwestern... This was part of the campus culture, an unspoken one, but whenever you'd pass by someone especially walking to and from class to the dorms you'd always say "Hey, how's it Going..." Or "Hello" with a smile, wether you knew that person or not. When I attended there we had under 2000 students attending so it was small enough to be close knit but yet as large as the small town in Texas I grew up in.
In the back roads of small country towns of Texas like I grew up in, there was a thing I noticed even at a 10 year old that was different from the east coast where I was born. My father who grew up outside of Philadelphia, moved us to Texas so he could fulfill his life long dream of owning a farm in the southwest and become a cowboy. seriously though. My dad was the kind of guy that could talk to anyone anywhere at any time, there were no such things as strangers for Bill Martin. I mean even wrong number calls my dad would engage with them and get to know them.
So as a little girl, my dad would take my mom, brother and I on Saturday drives and we would just drive drive drive all over the back roads between Azle, Decator, Weatherford, Peaster and Springtown just sightseeing listening to oldies music as we drove around in my Dad's pick up truck. The thing I noticed is in Texas you would signal a driver that was coming from the opposite direction and you would raise your hand and wave with a smile. When ever I go visit my family who still live in the area the drivers still do the same thing as they did 30 years ago.
WHAT SMILING DOES FOR OTHERS
A few weeks ago, I was walking inside a local QT to grab a drink and as an older black gentleman was walking out and I said, "Hello" and smiled at him. He immediately stopped dead in his tracks looked at me, Smiled and went back and grabbed the door.
It was a kewl moment where two strangers who will probably never cross paths again intersected for a moment and kindness was shared. Smiles transcend cultural, religious, economic and racial differences and if more of us, Especially those who are believers in Jesus this should be part of the great commission. Smiling shares the Love of God, Smile offers compassion and understanding, Smiling offers Hope. A Smile doesn't judge it just lightens up a room. And you really don't even need to say a word... Just Smile... The words will come as you step out in do it more.
The thing about smiling at a perfect stranger is that more often than not they will smile back at you. I only once had someone give me a scowl when I smiled at him. It was an elderly man on a train in Germany.
We were traveling to the airport with a huge group (36) of friends from church. We Americans are a little more rambunctious than our German counter parts. We were singing and laughing and having a good time.
Then I could feel these eyes staring at us and I looked at this Man right in the eyes and smiled. You know this man who had a sour face just tightened up his scowl even more then when it was time for him to get off the train he got us shook his head and mumbled "Aüslander" which means foreigner and got off the train.
So even if your smile gets rejected its still better to give one as you never know how that may impact on the person. A Smile is the perfect gift we can give the world and it doesn't even cost us anything. Yeah it might feel awkward at first, but just like with anything you have to step out and take the first step and the more you do it it becomes more natural and you don't even think about it.
Yesterday was World Smile Day, but I think everyday should be World Smile Day! Try to make an effort to smile at those you encounter you never know how profound that moment could be!