Monday, July 2, 2012

The Art of The Smile - Would You Like Happiness With That?

Do you make a conscious effort to smile? I'm not talking about when you actually have something to smile about. I'm talking about when there's nothing in particular to smile about and you do it anyway. If you aren't doing it, you should be. Let me explain.

I had an epiphany recently. I was rushing through my day, completely ignoring humanity in general, when I utilized a drive-thru restaurant facility to quick-quick-hurry-get-some-food. I pulled through the first window, handed over my money like a drone on auto-pilot, retrieved my receipt with a general look of "who gives a crap" on my face, and headed to the second window to pick up my food.

Somewhere, between the first and second window came the epiphany, an appetizer to the Big Mac, if you will. It suddenly dawned on me that I wasn't being friendly.

I felt like Adam & Eve in the garden, suddenly naked. I felt a sudden twinge of... of... guilt! Why, I hadn't even bothered to look at the face of the person taking my money. And I certainly hadn't smiled at her and been friendly. All of a sudden, I was ashamed of myself. I could do better! And I should! There was no reason not to do better, for the good of all humanity, or at least the good of the drive-thru workers.

For all I knew, one of them could be suicidal, clinically depressed, or just having a crappy day. And me coming through the line, thoroughly indifferent and normal... well, that was not going to help anybody.

So when I got to the second window, I looked the lady directly in the eye and said, "Hello," as she handed me my food. I smiled. On purpose. At her. Not only that, but when she was through handing me my food, I looked her in the eye again and said, "Thank you! You have a wonderful day!" I smiled again. On purpose.

The experiment was going well. I received a response that was similar to what I projected. Smile. Happy. Nice. Repeat!

Since it went so well at the drive-thru, I decided to try my experiment at Wal-Mart. I went through the checkout and addressed the checker with genuine friendliness. Again, I smiled and thanked her and told her to have a wonderful day. This was awesome. You'd think I was the one providing the service!

And there was Ian, the subject of the My Love/Hate Relationship with Wal-Mart post, right at the next register, reminding me that I was doing the right thing and I should be proud of myself.

I was on fire! Watch me burn, baby.

On the way out the door, I got totally crazy. I started smiling at strangers. Now, I think it's very nice to do this and most people smiled back, but here's a list of commentary I think may have been going through their minds:

  1. Do I know her?
  2. Does she think she knows me?
  3. That lady must have something wrong with her, smiling at random strangers. That's not right.
  4. Why is she smiling? Did she just fart?
  5. What's wrong? Is there something on my face?
  6. What's wrong with that lady? Does she want to kidnap my children?
  7. Is that girl high?
  8. That lady is waaaayyyy too happy.
  9. (Male) Is she flirting with me? I am having a pretty good hair day.
  10. (Female) Is she flirting with me? She must be a lesbian.
I challenge you to smile at somebody you wouldn't normally smile at today, say a kind thing, and see if you get a free order of happiness with that effort.

What does this smile say to you?


  1. KCLAnderson (Karen)July 2, 2012 at 7:30 AM

    I do this all the time! It's the kind of thing that, once you've done it, you do it more and more. Of course there are times I am on autopilot or in a bad mood and don't smile and then someone smiles at me and I remember :-)

  2. I learned the same lesson from my wonderful big sister. She is so open and friendly towards the universe, and it treats her in kind. Happiness feels so much better than the converse, why not make it your default?

  3. Becky Green AaronsonJuly 2, 2012 at 8:19 AM

    I'm the queen of speeding through the day, GETTING THINGS DONE. It's good to slow down and be conscious of how our attitude--especially a smile--can affect others. I will be smiling extra big today! Thanks for the great post.

  4. Cindy, I know you didn't mean it that way, but it looks more like a smirk to me. Nonetheless, keep up the good work and you and the rest of the world will be happier! I try my best to be pleasant to all those I encounter also (and I don't worry about their thoughts of my ulterior motives!).

  5. OMG... I have recently been thinking about this same thing! A Lot! No... really! It's all part of my effort to be a better, more postive, more grateful person. I can't say I've gotten good at it, or do it all the time. But when in public I am making an effort just to try and make some eye contact and smile at people.

  6. Love the way your mind works, Cindy. Whenever I'm asked about my pet peeves, only one comes up repeatedly: when I smile at or say hello to someone and they don't smile or say hello back. I keep smiling anyway. How do I keep non-smilers from discouraging me? I tell myself they're sad or they're solving a problem or that IS their smile and they don't realize their mouth isn't doing what they think it is. Overall, the reminder that "hey we're all human and we're in this together" gathers more positive results than not.

  7. Some people seem to have no joy in them and that bugs me. I know a few people like that (never smile or laugh) and I think it's so sad. I am mostly smiley and friendly, so when I'm not, I have to check myself like you said, "What is my face doing when I'm not looking?" LOL!

  8. That is great! So many people just don't care and don't take the time to self-evaluate like I did that day. It takes conscious effort. Good for you for even being aware of it and putting an effort in because I guarantee you that most people don't. They just keep on keepin' on...

  9. George, you are exactly right. This is sort of a general smirk I wear when I'm not purposely smiling, but I've noted over the years that people interpret it as a smile and respond to it as though it were my full-on smile. So I guess that's my "lazy version" of a smile ;0) I am working on making it smilier.

  10. This is a great post! And a great idea. I've read that researchers say the act of smiling makes you feel happy: releases endorphins I think. So, keep smiling!

  11. Makes me think of a line from one of my favorite movies, Point of No Return when she's teaching Bridget Fonda how to be nice.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog to leave a comment (smiles)!

  12. Yay to big smiles! I "see" you as a smiley person, even though I only know you virtually ;0) And as if you haven't noticed, I use the smiley ;0) a lot in my comments. Hee hee.

  13. Some days, my default setting is set on "cranky," so I have to put myself in check. I believe in karma, what goes around, comes around and around and around...

  14. The smiley funny face ;0) is my favorite emoticon. I overuse it and I'm proud of it, LOL!

  15. AWESOME! This is exactly how I try to go about my day...especially when the pains get rough. It cheers me up to be able to make other people smile. Even if it's just a nervous "is she gonna mug me" smile!

  16. Blog Pr Wire - KayJuly 3, 2012 at 9:23 AM

    You could ad to things people are thinging: She must be a Canadian tourist :) great post - today I will try this - though I think I ususally smile a lot. I also try to give people complimnets when I see an opportunity to do so like this: " Hey Cindy, great blog!"

  17. Why, thank you so much and thanks for stopping by! LOL, Canadian tourist... don't what they would be doing in the middle of Illinois - hee hee!

  18. Yes, I totally AM going to mug you, LOL! Mug you with happiness! Good for you (and I) spreading the love...

  19. Oh I like that your blog posts are so elaborate! And what a nice picture of you. Also love the one on your profile :)

  20. Well, you are just full of compliments! Thanks so much for the flattery... I am accepting of flattering commentators at any point in time ;0)

  21. Well, hello there! I just visited your site the other day... was thinking about submitting ;0) And yes, you are right about my smile. This blog has been instrumental in gaining confidence where my writing is concerned. Thanks so much for taking the time to visit and comment!

  22. Perhaps that particular smile says you've been hit the gin and juice Cindy?

    Annoyingly-I am one of those people smiling at everybody. A regular Miss Mary fucking sunshine I am. When I was 16, I actually had a friend yell at me for being too nice because I said please and thank you to a server at a fast food restaurant—like they didn't deserve politeness?

    You have wonderful day now.

  23. Yuck! No gin and juice for me! Occasional wine, maybe, but not in that picture. I think it says tired and relaxed...

    I am glad you are a happy, smiley, f'n sunshine ray ;0)