More recently, I saw the true value of a genuine smile at work. I work at an alternative high school. A former student was a boy in our special education self-contained unit. He walked with an unsteady gait, couldn't speak very clearly, had some behavioral issues, lived in state custody, but oh, his smile! He used it everywhere he went and people responded so kindly. I daresay he was the most loved kid in the school because he gave away his smile freely, without price! I'll never forget him.
These two experiences are interesting because they represent two totally different backgrounds and genders. One was relatively privileged and the other was what most would consider under-privileged. But they both had considerable influence within their own circles. Another thing is that this influence happened because of cumulative effect. They didn't just smile once in awhile. They smiled almost perpetually. And both individuals had smiles that were sincere and unforced.
It pays to smile! In more ways than one! Consider these benefits when one smiles:
1) Lowers heart rate - People who smile and laugh often are less likely to develop heart disease! (Medical News Today)
2) Releases Endorphins - With more endorphins in our bodies, we are able to reduce stress, lessen pain and elevate our moods! In other words, we become easier to live with!
3) Smiling increases productivity while working. It makes sense, because mood is elevated and stress is reduced. We are more in the mood to be productive!
4) When we smile genuinely, people are more apt to trust us! Relationships thrive on smiles!
5) When you smile at someone, at least 50% of people will smile back and thus, it is contagious, spreading the benefits to those around us!
I think that there is an art to smiling. I think that practice definitely makes perfect. Experimentation is definitely time well spent! People can tell if a smile is real or fake. Real wins out every time. I believe that the eyes also need to be involved in a truly sincere smile. I've seen people who smile with their lips only, but their eyes look dead. I've also noticed, too, that when my teeth are whitest, my smile is returned by others more often.
So go ahead, smile and make someone's day. And don't worry if they don't smile back! You're the one that's the winner anyway!