Remember the movie Kal Ho Na Ho? And Shah Rukh Khan trying to teach the ever-uptight Naina to smile? We know why Naina is always distraught, but WHY does SRK want her to smile?
Because he knows that smiling will bring her hope and good cheer. Sounds difficult to believe but true. Happiness gets us smiling, sure. The other way round works too. Smiling does feed into optimism; it elevates the mood and helps us see the lighter side of things. When we smile, we feel positive, happier, in control.
So what is it about a smile?
A smile is magical…
Every time we smile, happy hormones rush through our blood and we relax, our mood lightens and our face brightens instantly… The impact on others is equally indelible.
Everyone likes being smiled at. A smile conveys warmth, openness, friendliness… and we feel rewarded. This is why we are naturally drawn to people who smile. And the reason why Madhuri Dixit, Julia Roberts and Jackie Chan are so popular. One glimpse of their wide, carefree smiles enslaves us immediately!
A smile is infectious…
A smile says: I like you. When the other person smiles, we smile. Unconsciously. Automatically.
It is human nature to want to return a smile. Indeed, it is difficult not to react positively to a smile. Smiling helps us make friends. And diffuses unpleasant situations. Remember the time you went to “have it out” with the neighbor? The neighbor opened the door and smiled… and you forgot all your harsh words! Research shows natural smilers are more likely to be promoted; they appear more confident and successful.
Try smiling at strangers as you walk down the road. I have often tried it, and it works: after the initial hesitation, almost all return the smile. When I smile, the world smiles back.
A smile spreads happiness…
We are all born with the ability to smile; even blind kids who have never seen a smile can smile. Babies smile in the womb; after they are born, they continue to smile, especially in their sleep. Yet, somehow, as we make the transition from childhood to adulthood, we forget to smile as much as we used to. When you try to remember how many times you smiled today, you will be surprised how little you did! Was this because there was not a single moment of happiness or amusement during the entire day? If joy could not be the source of your smile, then, as Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh says, let your smile be the source of joy!
Smile and laugh more often. If you’re feeling down or notice that you’ve not smiled in a while, fake one. The brain does not know a fake smile from a real one; it still signals the stress to go away immediately. And the more often you fake a smile, the more likely it is that a smile will begin to come naturally.
A smile is forever…
We definitely need to smile more… It makes us realize that things are not all that bad. Everyone likes being smiled at. And the best part is, it never ever hurts to smile. My everlasting memory of my mom-in-law will be the welcoming smile she greets me with when I return from work.
Popular Cuban-American singer Gloria Estafan delightfully expresses it thus:
‘Cause when I close my eyes
I still can see your smile
It’s bright enough to light my life
Out of my darkest hour…
PS: A smile in corona times…
In corona times, when social distancing is the norm, can we really afford not to smile at the few people we do happen to meet? For instance, wouldn’t smiling help the sour-faced scowling couple I see in the park every morning? Wouldn’t it bring more joy into their life if they smiled? Should I, like Shah Rukh Khan, tell them to stand in front of the mirror and go eeeeeeeeeee…? Or should I simply smile at them every time I pass them? After all, a smile CAN be more contagious than coronavirus!