By Victoria Holland
It’s weird the little things that stick in your mind. I remember when I was a kid in junior school my headmaster told a story in assembly that has always stayed with me – it was about passing on a smile. He said that when you smiled at someone, they would smile at someone else, who would then smile at another person and so on. Like the domino effect but with smiles, I always liked the idea of that, spreading a little joy around. And you never know where it would end up – the 6 degrees of separation!
Smiling – it’s also something lovely to do. If you see someone in pain or can see they’re having a rough day, flashing them a smile is sometimes all it takes to make them feel better, like this girl I saw on the ferry the other day. I was on the ferry hopping around Brisbane as you do, we pulled into a dock and there was a girl waiting there. She was what some people would call ‘odd’, but what I would call individual – head to toe in black, big boots, crazy hair. Then there was a bunch of girls behind her, blonde, nails, little shorts, you know the other end of the spectrum, laughing and giggling giving her funny looks. I could tell by the look on her face how uncomfortable and anxious she was. Anyway, she got on the ferry looking distressed and sat downstairs where I was and the other girls went upstairs.
She looked out the window for quite a long time with a sort of lifeless yet sad expression, then when it was my turn to get off I finally caught her eye and gave her a smile. She smiled back then rapidly looked down at her feet where another massive grin came over her face, like the kind you can’t control, like I’d genuinely made her day. The kind of smile you get when you’re out somewhere random and suddenly remember something nice or funny and you just can’t stop it. Even though you’re in the supermarket looking at the tinned beans smiling away and everyone’s wondering why you love beans so much. That kind of smile! And I felt like I’d taken the past few minutes of dirty looks and sniggers from the girls on the dock away and brightened her day just a little. It left us both feeling good and it was the littlest thing in the world.
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You can smile at anyone, anywhere, in any country and they can feel that warmth. They say it’s hard to communicate if you don’t speak the language but I don’t believe that. I saw this quote once that goes “we all smile in the same language.” It’s because we’re all human no matter our creed, colour, race, nationality, sex. Humans have our own unspoken language that we can all understand, and I think people forget that sometimes. I try to smile wherever I go now, every country I’m in, I smile at people and you know what 9 times out of 10 they smile back and if they don’t, hey you can’t win ‘em all! Don’t let it stop you because I’m sure it brightened the other 9 peoples’ days! That 1 person who doesn’t smile back, I’m not sure why they don’t – I haven’t figure that out yet. But maybe if we’re all a little cheerier we can get them to crack one now and again.
It’s a small world they say, true and getting smaller. I still can’t believe how amazing technology is, how it’s changed our lives in just a few short decades; in a matter of seconds you can reach millions of people with a click of your mouse. You can brightens someone’s day with a retweet or a like but we’ve lost that human touch, that random chance meeting. Nothing says it more than human expression, emotion and interaction. So put your phone away and look around, make eye contact and smile at the lonely little old lady on the bus, you might just make her day! Plus you never know who you might meet and get to know with a smile, like Audrey Hepburn said “Happiest girls are the prettiest girls”. A smile can help you make friends, it gives kindness and light, it gives hope and joy. It’s silly, fun and playful. It can take away loneliness and heartache. It’s the littlest, easiest thing you can do that can make the biggest difference to someone’s day or even someone life, never underestimate the power of a smile! Being a good person or helping others doesn’t mean you have to be mother Teresa. It can start with just a smile. I know we get a lot of sunshine in Brisbane but not all warmth and light comes from the sun;
“Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.”
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