This I Believe

Carolyn - Goshen, Indiana
Entered on November 6, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

Overall, I am pretty shy. Left alone in a crowded room full of friendly people, I will hold off from speaking to anyone until someone first approaches me. My sisters wrote me off as a lost cause years ago, predicting my future to be one of a hermit. But somewhere in the midst of my introverted nature, I found my own power in connecting with others.

I believe in the extraordinary influence a simple smile has on an individual.

I might be the only person, but I believe that I am the luckiest individual on my college campus. I was fortunate enough to snag the 6am-9am shift at the campus-community fitness center. It is here, while most students are still sleeping, that I get my fuel for the entire day.

My first day, I trudged into work with a coffee in one hand and a can of diet mountain dew in the other, dreading the next three hours of sitting. I thought for sure I would fall over, asleep, from boredom and sleep deprivation. I just knew that the rest of my day would suffer as this crummy start would put me into a foul mood for sure.

I, however, was taught from a young age to put on a smile and greet the world. So that is what I did and do everyday – smile. Since I do not do much else in this job, I guess you could say that I get paid to smile, which is fine by me. Maybe it is due to an overexposure to the excess endorphins flying around my working environment, but I have found that once you begin smiling, like at six in the morning, it is hard to stop.

For the longest time, I never really thought much of my practice of smiling at strangers. Never until this job. To me, a smile was just a simple gesture, an acknowledgement, nothing special. But I have witnessed its power. Most people catch the smile right away and return with one of their own. Others have immunity. One regular comes to exercise every morning and every morning I greet him with a huge smile and a cheery “Good Morning.” My first day he refused to even return the verbal greeting. The next day was the same. A week later he mustered out a gruff “Mornin.’” Now it is he who first greets me with his rusty, but genuine grin.

Smiling at others before the sun even has a chance not only brightens my outlook on the day, but awakens the patrons as well, catching them off guard and mid yawn. A smile truly goes a long way to make others rethink their expression and mood.

I believe in the simple and inexplicable power in a smile. I believe it is from this starting point that great things occur. I have found that it is in this small, often unannounced expression that lives can be changed and only for the better.