By Heather Greaves
Reiki Teacher, Yoga Instructor and Holistic Counsellor
What a simple smile can do
As I was walking through the parking lot today, after I’d seen the kids off to school, kissed my husband good-bye as he went to work I hurried off to get through my to-do list. I looked up from my thoughts and my lips began to form a half moon on its back. I realised that I was about to smile at a perfect stranger who happened to be walking past me.
It was automatic…like a reflex, but then my mind was suddenly filled with contradiction:
“Do I know this person? Are they going to smile back at me? Will I look ridiculous? Are they going to think I want something from them?
All of this was flooding my awareness in a matter of milliseconds. I chose, as I very often do, to give a quick smile and avert my eyes down, so that I never got to see whether or not they return the gesture.
Then I chastise myself! ‘Don’t be silly! Just smile if you want to smile! Who cares what they think? If it makes you feel good, then do it!’
I know I am not alone! Millions of people walk around everyday not looking at other people. I took the time to questions why I was one of those people, even just for a moment. Let’s think about this. Why do I avert my eyes? Am I afraid of feeling a sense of rejection if they don’t smile back? What do I hope to achieve from smiling at these people? Am I really satisfied with offering my warmth without expecting anything in return?
Then it hit me…my Grandmother’s voice from my childhood,
‘Always offer your smile as an act of love. It doesn’t cost you anything and you never know just how much another person might need it. And, it makes you feel good too!’
Little did she know at the time that science would prove that pulling the face muscles upwards triggers certain meridian points that release hormones in our bodies to make us feel happy! She was such a clever woman!
I continued my ‘To-do’ list, however, I became very aware of the people that were around me: mums with prams and crying babies having a catch up at the food court; men in suits and women in dresses running towards the buses; an elderly couple shuffling along helping each other walk; checkout clerk scanning bar codes on food items. But no one was smiling. They were all just seemingly rushing to get somewhere, but not appearing all that happy about it.
What happened to pleasantries? Are we so caught up in our own lives that we can’t remember we are all human and we need to feel loved? Have we re-defined the norms of who or what we are allowed to show love and affection to, which now does not include smiling at others of our own species? Have computers and the Internet deadened our automatic response to greet one another with warmth and compassion regardless of our intimacy with each other?
Why are we not smiling at each other?
If that is the case, then I say we start a revolution! A SMILE revolution! Just try for at least one day as you are
walking past strangers, noticing the mailman putting letters in your letterbox, workers stocking shelves at the grocery store, and look them in the eye and greet them with a genuine, heartfelt smile! You have nothing to lose and only happiness to gain!