I’ve been conducting a scientific experiment recently, trying to see the effects of a simple yet hugely interesting study of human nature.
What on earth have I been up to?
I’ve been smiling in the street.
There have been no big cheesy full-teeth weirdo grins. I haven’t been flashing my American-made gnashers at strangers, making them turn on their heels and run.
It’s been a lot more subtle. No-one but the person coming towards me would even notice.
My eyes are the key to this. My mouth plays a much lesser role, only moving a couple of milimetres upwards, more on one side than the other, lips closed, as I try to catch a look from my fellow pedestrian.
If our eyes meet mine go all crinkly and bright and I try very hard to say, without words, something along the lines of:
‘Hi there, it’s a nice day, it’s good to be out walking, I hope you are feeling well and happy, we are similar in the mere fact that we are both human beings living on the same planet and if you recognise all of this please smile back.’
And they usually do. Sometimes just with their eyes too. Sometimes with a flash of teeth. Even better. But there is often a fleeting moment of recognition although we have never seen each other before. A sense of acknowledgement that we’re in this boat together and that the best way to keep on sailing smoothly is to recognise our similarities and not our differences.
So try it. Remember, no scary, toothy grimaces. Concentrate on the eyes more than the mouth. See what happens. Then reap the rewards. Because making someone, anyone, smile, is infinitely better than making them frown. Especially in these weird and worrying days.
And as Louis Armstrong told us all those years ago, when you’re smiling the whole world smiles with you.
Isn’t that what we all really want?