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Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Spread A Little Happiness

On a mission to reassure myself that my message is actually being heard beyond the circle of my loyal band of family and friends- this morning, whilst imprisoned in my bed by my nemesis, chronic pain, I 'Googled' the phrase- Reason to Smile.
Amazingly, my own Reason to Smile posts were present within the top few results, but more importantly, on that list, I discovered this article on the importance of a simple smile.
Coincidentally, this is actually a thought that occurred to me a lot whilst on my recent holiday in The Maldives, where so many of the staff who would spend the day sweeping the leaves off the paths in the baking sun, would speak little to no English, bar the word coconut so my only means of expressing any appreciation to them for their work would be to flash them a toothy grin.
In this instance, as is so often the case throughout the world where language may be a barrier, a smile was a universal method of positive communication.
A year or so ago, whilst spending one of my frequent moments pondering life and it's meaning, I decided that although I may naturally and subconsciously tend to smile at people whenever I should see them on the street, be them known to me or otherwise: I would, from that point on, for the sake of myself and others- make a conscious effort to smile at everyone that I meet or pass everyday in the hope of spreading this expression of positivity and warmth with such a simple act that requires such minimal physical effort.
I have noticed the consequence of this decision, to be that I have felt happier and brighter and more positive of spirit myself, as well as finding that this simple contraction of facial muscles, has initiated interesting conversations with people that should I not have smiled at them, I may never had met.
This is wonderful for me as I LOVE meeting people of every kind and I particularly like talking to people who are as different to me as possible, be that in occupation, background or character to myself.
London has been particularly wonderful for this pastime of mine, as contrary to the thoughts of country bumpkins such as myself, I have found this city to be an extremely friendly place to live. Having a dog is also a huge factor, that combined with a simple smile, can lead to meeting some wonderfully warm and fascinating people.
Naturally, the fabric of life means that we are all different in our likes and dislikes and in our general characters: therefore, some people may perceive a crazy girl whizzing along the pavement towards them in her super-speedy-wheelchair grinning like a Cheshire cat, to be a little odd- whilst others, (who may perhaps find this situation a little less loopy), may simply just not have time or the inclination to talk.
I sometimes find that the wheelchair element of this scenario can well make some people I pass, conspicuously pop in their earphones, look at the floor and stride more purposefully past me with increased speed.
I think that this uncomfortable reaction of some, may well be a factor of why I now tend to smile at strangers more, as in my opinion, this makes those who are bizarrely extremely awkward about having interaction with someone such as I with a disability, perhaps feel, (after they have awkwardly scuttled past me), that I am indeed a real person who has emotions and is not necessarily unable to have communication just because I am sat in a chair.
I perhaps naively believe that my increased smiling at these people, also makes those who may be sat on the fence of awkwardness towards interacting with a disabled person, perhaps perceive me as more approachable- and therefore they may be more inclined not scuttle on whilst making themselves voluntarily deaf by Kings of Leon, the next time that they are greeted by someone such as myself.
Who know, either way, I know that I am feeling better in myself for smiling, rather than being dragged to the depths of those who choose only to project their own misery upon others.
The article that initiated this ramble is attached below and lists so many of the benefits of smiling- the most important to me, being that smiling, like happiness and positivity, is contagious- so what could be a more simple act of making a difference to the spirit of the world each day, than to make a small physical effort to contract your muscles into a simple smile when meeting people, known to you or otherwise!

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