We have many powerful tools in the world. There are chain saws, machine guns, grenades, nuclear bombs, and hatred, to name just a few. While I agree these are all powerful, very powerful, I think we should not underestimate the power of a simple smile and kind words.
Just think of the possibilities. As world leaders argue around discussion tables, what might happen if they started with a smile? I don’t mean a sarcastic, ‘I-am-going-to-screw-you-over smile’, but a real genuine smile, one that says, ‘I will listen, I will hear you’. By nature, smiles are contagious. What if the smile was followed by saying something nice to begin? That could set the stage for different moods and a different tone to the meeting.
After waiting on a long line, when you finally get to the cashier, I bet she is not smiling, but rather feeling rushed and stressed, like everyone expects her to somehow work faster yet still be accurate. What would happen if you started your transaction with a pause, a smile, and some gentle words? Chances are she would stop for a second and smile back. Maybe that is all she would need to de-stress for a moment and to help change the direction of her day.
What about the nervous person in the waiting room of a doctor’s office? Might a smile and a few funny words provide comic relief and take his mind off his worries, even if for a few seconds? Smiles can help a person stay positive too. Sometimes the change in focus provides a needed respite.
What about those funny videos that get circulated time and again that make us smile? We may have seen one before but liked it so much we watch it again. Why? Whether it is the babies babbling to each other or the pets doing something ridiculously cute, we want to smile. Often people comment, 'Thanks, I needed that smile to start my day.' How might the world be different if we could all start our day with a smile? Smiles can change attitudes.
As a teacher, I often look across the room at my students taking a test or even just struggling through a class assignment. They have such serious looks on their faces. My simple smile elicits a smile back every single time, followed by their head dipping back down to concentration. It is as though that smile just gave them the answer to what they were searching for. At times they just need that little look and smile, reassuring them that ‘everything is ok’.
When possible, I try to start conversations with a few kind words, a compliment, a question about how they are, or with a smile. That sets the tone for what is to follow. It also keeps me focused on the fact that we are all doing the best we can and no one is perfect. We are all human beings and we all have feelings and opinions. No person’s worth is better than another’s.
There are other advantages to smiling too. It has been said that smiles lower blood pressure, boost your immune system, release endorphins which are natural pain killers, and make you look younger. This makes sense when you think about it, except the looking younger part. But hey! I'll take it.
Smiles and kind words do not cost a cent and are accessible to every human being. They are unlimited in quantity and easy to execute. The can change your mood and help you to stay positive. If you don’t already do this, how about giving it a try at least once a day. I know it has made a difference in my life, both on the giving and receiving end.
PS – I am off on a European adventure to five new countries. I hope to have some great entries when I return in a few weeks. Until then…