If we take a walk around a park, what do we usually see? We can see children laughing and playing merrily. We can see people who are health conscious walking briskly and trying to burn those extra calories. We can see people mulling over their lost glories and trying to come to terms with the reality. We can see arguments and negotiations aplenty. We can see couples trying to weave conversations together and dreaming about their future. In totality, it represents the collage of life’s inequities at arm’s length. Taking one step further, if we try to analyze the emotions of each character that we see around in the entire canvass of life, how many of them seem to be happy? How many of them are smiling? The answer to these inquisitions would be disappointing. We hardly see people smiling nowadays. They are all lost in the intricate labyrinth of life’s challenges.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word,
a listening ear, and honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring,
all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
– Leo F. Buscaglia
What is so great about a mere smile? After all it is just a visible enhancement to our facial contours. But the fact that it creates a riveting, rippling effect on the onlookers is a reality. A smile is infectious. It can enliven our feelings and help in dissipating the nebulous clouds of negativities. It sends out a signal of having acknowledged / recognised the person in front of us .A smile, though it’s innocuous, directly connects to your heart. A smiling person is always construed as someone who is very approachable and friendly. When you see a smiling person, you tend to think more with your heart than with your brain. We tend to forgive and pardon people who smile and apologize to us. Mother Theresa believed “peace begins with a smile.” A sincere smile shines from our soul, making the world a warmer place.
What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.
Every smile is the product of physical processes common to all humans, but that’s were their similarities end. Ever since the dawn of civilization, the upward movement of the muscles of the face has carried a bewildering range of meanings. Let us turn the pages of history and take an engaging and eclectic look at how a smile has been depicted by people (of different culture), world over. The representation of the smile can be traced from its mild, mask-like expression in early Greek sculpture to its ever-debated, enigmatic presence on Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, to its gaping glory days in 17th-century Dutch and Flemish painting. If we travel to the East, the Indonesian smile is often misinterpreted by westerners as unconditionally welcoming. Supreme enlightenment is reflected in the holy smile of the Buddha, yet some civilizations thought of open-mouthed smiling as obscene, and nineteenth-century English and American slang equated “smiling” with drinking whisky. But whatever said and done, smiling to ourselves and others is a gift of love. The universal language of a smile speaks straight to the heart, bypassing the intellect and ego.
To nurture loving relationships Ayurveda advises one greet others with a pleasant face, Buddhism encourages friendliness to all (Maitri) and Taoism teaches that giving ourselves a grin is the best medicine.
A smile is often considered as a powerful people management tool. If we take any leadership literature, it is incomplete without highlighting the significance of a smile. It adds to ones personality. If we analyze the leadership styles of all those great leaders who have made significant contributions towards the growth of humanity, we will find that all of them found a way to the people’s heart through their effervescent smiles. Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela changed the face of freedom struggle through their simplicity. They taught the world about the greatest doctrines of resilience ……treating your enemies with a smile. The spiritual leaders also talks about the essence of smile in our lives. When we smile, we exude an aura of divinity and warmth which cascades the energy zone of people near by us. It is said that a genuine smile is a reflection of our inner happiness. A deep inner smile spreads like a relaxing elixir making us receptive to transform negative energy into positive. Conversely, a scowl suppresses our immune system by increasing stress, contracting channels and blocking energy. Whether genuine or not, a smile always transcends all communication barriers and helps in creating new vistas for fomenting camaraderie and good will among the people.
A smile often puts us at ease. Imagine going for an interview and walking into a room filled with grim looking people. We smile at them but they seldom reciprocate. Our initial reaction would be of disappointment and we may not be able to give out our best under such circumstances. But if the same people had smiled and greeted us, then that very gesture would have put us at ease. It does not take a lot to smile. Even it does not cost us anything to smile. But when we do smile, we are passing on the warmth of our emotions to the other person. And that helps a lot in building relationships. Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Together these three make us feel good. Smiling is a natural feel-good drug. This is all the more reason to have a perpetual smiling face!
In our routinised life, we can easily be in a zombie-like state, totally nonchalant about the happenings around us. We tend to get habituated. Amidst our busy work schedule, we can sometimes forget about the people around us. The challenge is to practice beaming with smile as we come into work and to keep smiling genuinely, through out the day, with people who comes into our sphere of contact.
Smiling faces are always beautiful and the most endearing accessory. Let us not underestimate the power of a smile. Let us use ours to disperse sadness and dissolve stress. Let us make it a rendezvous everyday to bring happiness to atleast one person in this entire universe
As a very famous author once rightly said “Before we put on a frown, let us make absolutely sure that there are no smiles available.”