Where did the last year go? How short was this decade? Attending college and high school seems like yesterday. I feel as if I’m a 20-year-old kid in a 60-year-old body – except, I have cut off my pony-tail and thrown out my patched jeans.
In general, I think, during my lifetime, I have been a friendly sort of guy, maybe some would disagree, I love to laugh and cut up and smile as much as I can. I heard some statistics, recently, about smiling and they will blow you away. But let’s save that for later.
What made me think about smiling and being friendly was a last minute shopping adventure to Target a couple of days before Christmas.
As the automatic doors slid open I saw there were as many people inside as cars in the parking lot. There were a lot of folks shuffling about, but not so many to jam the aisles or make it uncomfortable to shop. I was in a good mood and thought everyone else was, too. Boy was I wrong.
As I pushed my buggy down the main aisle I noticed that people kept their eyes down or looking away from me or not to anyplace in particular, just down. And, no one made eye contact with me so I could give them a friendly nod and a smile. I thought, is this the Christmas spirit, the most holy and happiest time of the year?
I felt that I should start counting the number of people who didn’t make eye contact. Looking back it had to be a hundred at least. I confess that I struck up a short conversation (purposely) with a lady in the house wares department and she was friendly and smiled as we spoke. We exchanged a howaboutthat, and were on our way. I felt relieved. I wondered if people thought I was a creep and looked away from just me as they shopped. I was only looking for some sort of life in the zombie-like shoppers.
Seriously, no eye contact, no smile and not a word and it made me a little sad. Shopping seemed more like a job for those who share our community instead of the happiness of buying a gift for a loved one should be. Even as hectic as holiday shopping is, a smile to your compatriot shopper should be a priority.
Do the same people smile at home, at work, driving or chatting on their cell phones and LOL doesn’t necessarily mean you’re “laughing out loud.” LOL
Neuroscientist, anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists contributed to a network, as part of a U.C. Berkeley 30-year longitudinal study, in which 38,000 scientists contributed research on smiling.
Some interesting facts were discovered in the study. Ron Gutman, CEO of Healthtap, said in a recent lecture.
“Smiling is not just a universal means of communicating; it’s also a frequent one. More than 30 percent of us smile more than 20 times a day and less than 14 percent of us smile less than five times a day. In fact, those with the greatest superpowers are actually children, who smile as many as 400 times per day! “Did you know your smile can be a predictor of how long you’ll live – and that a simple smile has a measurable effect on your overall well-being? Prepare to flex a few facial muscles as you learn more about this evolutionarily contagious behavior,” Gutman said, quoting from the study. “When you smile you don’t only appear to be more likable and courteous, you appear to be more competent.”
A study of pre 1960s baseball cards discovered that:
Those who posed with a big smile lived an average of 79.9 years;
The ballplayers who smiles slightly lived an average of 75.0 years;
Those players who didn’t smile on their ball card lived 72.9 years – a difference of seven years of life between those ballplayers who had a beaming smile than players who posed seriously.
According to John Bowlby’s, book “Attachment,” “Surprisingly, we’re actually born smiling. 3-D ultrasound technology now shows that developing babies appear to smile even in the womb. After they’re born, babies continue to smile (initially mostly in their sleep) and even blind babies smile in response to the sound of the human voice.”
Gutman said in another U.C. Berkley study that when examining “the smiles of students in an old yearbook, and measured their well-being and success throughout their lives by measuring the smiles in the photographs, the researchers were able to predict: how fulfilling and long lasting their marriages would be; how highly they would score on standardized tests; of well-being and general happiness and how inspiring they would be to others. The widest smilers consistently ranked highest in all of the above.”
Did you know that one smile can provide as much brain stimulation as 2,000 bars of chocolate? A smile can make you look good in the eyes, which I couldn’t make contact with in Target, and make you feel happy.
It’s not a new concept, Nat King Cole, Michael Jackson and Charlie Chaplin recorded “Smile:”
Smile, though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
You’ll get by if you smile