‘When you smile, the world smiles with you.’ – Dale Carnegie.
If we want to both manifest and spread happiness, why not turn to the animal that does this feature better than any human can: a man’s best friend.
One of the warmest greetings that humans will ever receive is that which comes from a dog every single time. Be it a five-minute trip to the shops, a full day at work or a two-week holiday, when reunited with their owner, a man’s best friend will bound over with a toothy grin spreading from ear-to-ear, bursting with excitement. Why not apply the same principle with every interaction that we face?
The man who offers a smile to each person he passes on the sidewalk leaves a much more positive and lasting impression than the man who gives an awkward nod in your direction or, even less memorably, ignores you entirely.
This phenomenon isn’t just for those that you don’t know; why not offer a smile to each person with whom you come across? A smile makes you more approachable, infects those around you with the joy that you emit, and will, surprisingly, make you feel noticeably happier in every interaction in which you employ this idea.
Recall any interactions with strangers that you’ve had recently, and I think that you’ll find that the ones in which this stranger offered you a beaming smile and left you feeling that small bit happier will often be in the forefront of your memory. Think about when you come home from a long day at work, or a long day of study; what is the face you would choose to be greeted with by those that you come home to? I doubt you would choose to be received by a frown. If you would prefer a smile, I guarantee that someone else will. Granting someone a smile costs nothing but can breed surprising positivity if we employ this simple tact in our everyday lives, at every given chance.
Stuck at home, communicating exclusively via phone calls where a person cannot see your smile? Not a problem. If you find this hard to believe then I implore you to try something. Rehearse your usual phone call greeting (‘Hello, … here, who’s calling please? … Oh, hi there, it’s so nice to hear from you…’). Now do it again but imagine that the thought of speaking to this person fills you with joy and rehearse this greeting with a beaming smile. A smile can be heard in your tone and expression even over the phone, and this will inevitably make both parties in the call feel a little less gloomy about the repetitive conversations they must have. Recall a birthday where you received a phone call from a friend or family to wish you a happy birthday or sing a poorly-harmonised birthday song; you can sense the joy that this person shares with you through their smile. Now compare that to a phone call with a marketing company asking if you are happy with your current broadband service for the fifth time that week, in the same monotone voice. Once again, you can realise the power of a smile.
So, whether it’s to a stranger on the street, your mother when she returns from work, or a business partner on your final phone call of the day; offer them your happiest smile. Do this, and I think you’ll find that the simple act of smiling creates a happiness that is infectious to those around you, and will even stir up positivity in yourself. It sounds so simple right? That’s the idea: Old, obvious, and eternal.