Mental Health · Self Esteem

The Power Of A Smile

I love smiling and I love seeing people smile. Like a yawn, a genuine smile is incredibly infectious. The smile, in context with the rest of the expressions of a face, can exude a sense of warmth and happiness.

If you have been following my posts, you will know that I enjoyed a trip last month to Sri Lanka. One of the best views I was met with was a genuine, warm smile and a human who exuded friendliness and a good heart. Who was it? A massage therapist at the resort I was staying at. She spoke limited English and I barely spoke to her, but her entire being seemed to emit something I rarely get to see: total sincerity. Her warm smile was so genuine that it was worth more than many words that can splurge out of a person’s mouth in an hour. It quite literally transcended verbal language itself.

How strange it is that we can feel the entire power of a person sitting behind their smile. Have you ever walked into a room when the two people in there have just argued? You can immediately feel the tension. A genuine smile belonging to a genuine person has the opposite effect. You can sit in such a person’s presence and just feel totally at ease and happy. It doesn’t matter whether you were in a bad or neutral mood moments before; a smile can brighten up your day and sometimes you can’t help but smile too.

A number of years ago, I had a bout of really low self esteem and I was having an extremely hard time. I would walk around with either a neutral or dull look on my face. A stranger then said the words to me, “Smile!”. Perhaps this has happened to you too; when you’re in the midst of your anger and sorrow, the last thing you want to hear is a random person telling you what to do. However, I halted my negative thoughts for a moment and wondered what would happen if I did smile? I considered it and could hear Charlie Chaplin’s song, Smile, in my head:

Smile, though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
You’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through
For you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you’ll just
Smile

So I set myself a challenge. From that day, I decided I would smile no matter how bad I felt, just to see what would happen.

The results were really quite interesting! Whilst I felt absolutely rotten inside, I realised that I could actively brighten people’s days by smiling. I would walk down the street with a smile on my face and inadvertently catch the eye of people passing by. They would first be lost in their thoughts, some of them looking neutral, some looking sad or bothered. Then they would catch my eye and my smile and smile back. Some of them even continued walking with a smile on their face. The feeling of being able to bring a smile to someone’s face began to have positive effects on me too. I realised that by the simple power of a smile, I could make others feel happy even for the briefest of moments. It brought my self esteem from rock bottom to actually considering my value, even to these people that I did not know.

Nowadays, when someone I pass by throws me a smile, I remember back to my experiment. When it’s all dark and dreary in the UK, a smile from a fellow human being is like the sun shining. I can feel its warmth, its power and its glory. In the words of another musical legend, Louis Armstrong, “When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you“.

Wishing you all a happy day. If you’re feeling low, why not try a Smile Experiment like mine and see what happens.

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