There are a thousand different smiles.
It’s just a pull up of the muscles surrounding the mouth, behind the ear and along the cheek. It slightly narrows the eyes. But it is an open gesture, the opposite of a threat.
A smile indicates to another person that they are welcome in your life. It show them that their presence is not going to overwhelm you, and that you have attention space for them. It creates, chemically even, the conditions for goodwill.
A smile is a suggestion that all is well. Or else that, despite circumstances, all will be well in the end. It acts as a clue for those looking for help. It hints that they will not be turned away.
A GIFT OF POWER
More subtlely, a smile is a demonstration to someone that their presence has had a positive effect on you. Many people go through their days unsure whether their presence in the world is worth it, and a smile can provide some assurance that it is indeed worth it, and that their presence is useful, and makes a difference.
AN OFFER OF EMPATHY
Equally subtlely, a smile shows that the smiler is prepared to make a connection with others. It is a demonstration of receptiveness, and does not in itself demand anything, or judge anything. In this way, a smile can be healing for someone who feels that the world is a demanding place, and worries about being judged.
A RAISING OF THE SPIRIT
Try it now. Smile to yourself. It’s likely you will feel a slight physical change in your body. You might feel more positive, less inclined to be angry or sad. Smiling can be a kind of ‘mood yoga’, a way of stretching our positivity muscles.
Maybe, just for today, try a few extra smiles.
In particular, try to smile as a ‘gift of power’, to demonstrate to friends and strangers alike that their presence has a positive effect on you. It may help them to feel that life is worth it.
A smile is a simple thing.
But it can do many things. It can welcome others, it can suggest all is well, it can empower, it can heal others, and it can raise your own spirit.
It’s good ‘mood yoga’.