This I Believe

Danielle - Phoenix, Arizona
Entered on May 17, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

Imagine walking into a store and accidentally bumping into a stranger. How much of a difference does it make if they say, “it’s okay” with a smile, or a frown? Would you believe they actually do not mind? I believe a smile is the greatest form of communication.

Expressions speak louder than words. Smiling is a language of innumerable words. No matter the language a person speaks, anyone can understand a smile and its meaning. Life is too short to be wasted with complaints, frowns, and tears. Smiling can cure the simplest of problems.

I work in customer service. Daily, I encounter strangers as well as frequent customers, ordering coffee. Each day, I greet them with a smile when they enter, hoping they’ll return the same favor. However, there was one customer who came in with a grim vibe about him. At first, I decided to just settle with his mood, dealing very seriously with his money and coffee order. As he gloomily exited with his black coffee, I thanked him and told him I hoped he has a wonderful day, and then gave him one of the most sincere smiles I could conjure. Just when I thought he would continue frowning his way to the car, he stopped, paused for a moment, turned around, sighed with a thank you, and concluded with a genuine smile.

Smiling is contagious. Once one person gives a smile, the other individual has no choice but to return it. It is a universal connection to individuals.

In High School, teenagers are renowned for giving the cold shoulder. If you do not know the other student, or do not belong to their “clique”, there is no substantial reason to communicate with them. One day, I was walking down the hallway, frustrated from a low-test score, and stressed with my many assignments. As I paraded down the hall, a stranger strolling in the opposite direction flashed me a grin. A sudden sense of calm overwhelmed me. It was as if her smile reassured me that everything would be all right and there are more important issues in this world than grades. I knew that worrying about school would not help anything, but carrying forward with a positive attitude could lift up my entire life. I was reminded of all of this from one simple lift of cheek muscles.

I hope that when people give or receive a smile, they think about the meaning behind it, remembering how much effect it can hold on a person’s life. I believe in using the power of a smile to connect with people on a level that is inaccessible any other way. The next time I bump into a stranger at the store, I will remember to smile, remember that it is not a big deal, and that my smile could be the simple reassurance they are looking for.