“Peace begins with a smile.” 
― Mother Teresa

Even when we do become more sensitive to the plight of others through expanding our awareness, we don’t always respond by taking action to help in some practical way. A warm, caring smile can transmit a silent message of connection and kindness. Such a smile can be sent to the cashier who rings up our purchases, our child’s teacher, the office clerk who greets us, the person collecting charitable donations, a passerby on the sidewalk, and our children, family, friends and partners.

We often get so wrapped up in our private worries and thoughts that we lose sight of what our facial expressions are conveying to others. On the way to school, a daughter of a friend of mine used to say to her mother, “Why are you angry, Mom?” Her mother would say, “Angry? I’m not angry. What made you think that?” The child would say, “You were frowning, and I thought maybe I had done something to make you mad.”

For instance, we pass the staff in hotel hallways behind the heavy vats of laundry they are pushing along. We may not even notice them at all, as though they were like the fixtures or plants in the background. Taking a moment to smile and greet them or thank them for making everything so beautiful and clean. It is not difficult. These simple expressions ease both of our hearts by allowing us to be connected to others, even if only briefly. Why do we withhold these gentle touches of humanity and connection from each other?

There are people who always seem to have a smile on their face and then there are other people who will smile from time to time. When it comes to something as powerful as a smile, it could be said that one doesn’t need to hold back. We humans have the distinct ability to express ourselves in many ways and each expression serves a certain purpose. We use our expressions to get the responses we want from others or we simply are unaware of the messages our expressions are sending out.

A smile puts the others at ease because we are not coming across as being unfriendly or as a threat. The others see that the smiling person is approachable, in other words, a friendly smile is an unspoken permission on our behalf for the others to reach out and connect with us.
Therefore, a smile plays a huge part in one being able to form a good first impression, and it also has a constructive effect on all future interactions. For instance, if one smiles when they meet a friend, it shows that they are happy to see them.

Their friend is then likely to mirror back their reaction, that’s if they’re not already smiling, and it’s likely to enhance the interaction.The same would apply if one was about to go on a date with someone. If one smiles when they see the other person, it can allow the other person to feel more relaxed. This can then mean that the interaction is able to get off to a good start.

Smiling is then something that can allow one to have more influence and a greater impact on others. This is because it plays a part in how we feel in others’ company and conversely, how we are perceived by others. Smiling, allows us to feel good and this is another reason why it is good to smile. This shows that smiling not only has a positive impact on other people, it also improves our own wellbeing.

The Human Interaction Project is a project of The Giving Back Fund, Inc. (Federal Tax ID 04-3367888), a Massachusetts nonprofit corporation with federal tax-exempt status as a public charity under Section 501(c)(3).