week #11 smile more

smileApparently people in the UK do not smile enough. I was instructed by my grandmother in South Africa, who had come across this notion in an expat newspaper, that I need to smile more to counteract the problem. Clearly our reputation for being aloof reaches far and wide.

She is right. All you have to do is catch someone’s eye on the tube at 8am to know that people do not appreciate more interaction with strangers than is necessary.

I must admit, I am certainly no exception to the norm. I am not a ‘smiley’ person. I have a soft heart and I have a lot of love to give but I’m just not a happy, bubbly, smiley kind of girl. I’m a realist…and it shows. I’m usually quite content to make my way from A to B without so much as looking at strangers, never mind speaking to or smiling at them. However, yesterday I had to take puppy Dante to the vet which meant taking a fifteen minute walk with him in my arms (I promise I’ll stop going on about the dog at some point!). Instead, the walk took twenty minutes because so many people wanted to stop and stroke him and ask me questions about his breed and age. Despite my typical antisocial tendencies, I must confess that I rather enjoyed it. I realised that there is such joy to be found in connecting with strangers, even for a few brief moments.

One of my favourite time-wasters is trying to score 100 on the ‘smile level’ in Media Gallery on our computer. You probably think that I have too much time on my hands. I’m a student; procrastination is a way of life. But what I really love is seeing all the happy faces. And yes, this week’s blog picture is the top scorer so far. Feel free to email me any others you think might score higher.

I’ve decided I am going to take up Granny’s advice and attempt to engage with the people around me. My mother is brilliant at this. She talks to everyone and as a teenager you can imagine how well that went down. Nowadays, I tend to think it is a rare trait that is admirable and if more of us were like that, maybe we would all be just a little bit happier. Instead of going to the self-checkout at the grocery store, I can go to the counter where there is a real person with whom I can chat. And when I’m walking along the road, I can look up and smile at passers-by rather than pretend that there is something really interesting down at my feet. It is too easy just to get caught up in my own little world, yet humans are made for relationship. So, this week’s one small change = big smiles all round.


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