In the last couple of weeks, we didn’t have a lot to smile about. There is such suffering in the world right now against which, I already wrote that last week, we can only work with love. A love every single one of us can offer. But why, I ask you, do people not give this love to each other? How can there be so much hatred in the world even though we all own so much love? Wouldn’t a smile be enough to make all of our lives a little happier? Together with Listerine, I thought about how a smile can change your life and this is my story.
Because honestly? I never was a very open person myself. Out and about, on the streets, I’m usually moving in my own thoughts. I don’t notice that much around me, don’t see people. My brain is working so much that the rest of the world doesn’t matter to me that much. At least it used to be like this. I could only be open, friendly and forthcoming when I had the time to prepare myself. When I knew that the people I met had invited me and consequently, I wanted to show my gratitude.
But is that enough I thought? Perhaps not. Often, I got angry about a salesperson with a bad mood and answered that with my own, non-smiling face. A terrible way to meet someone, even if it is only at a cash desk in a shop. But I didn’t even notice how wrong my behaviour was…
… until I met my boyfriend, who changed so much in my way of thinking. I could watch him – downtown, in the streets, at the shop, in a supermarket – and no matter where we went, he confronted people with his openness, his interest and his smiles. I was fascinated and impressed and, at least at the beginning, a little confused, too. But the longer I watched him, I understood that his way of treating strangers must be the right way. So I interviewed him, asked him how the hell he does what he does. And I think his words should be truly inspiring for you, too.
Ricarda: What do you want to accomplish with your behaviour towards other people?
Max: I believe that whatever your behaviour towards someone else is, should be such that you would want to be treated equally. That means, I want to be a mirror for other people. Sounds posh perhaps, but I think that if you meet someone and expect a certain amount of friendliness and openness from them, you should offer them the same. Be friendly and you’ll get friendliness in return.
What is it that you do differently than other people?
I try to meet every person unprejudiced and I also try to stay neutral. Naturally, everyone always is in a certain mood, perhaps had a bad day, but I can’t know that. So why should I mirror that person’s mood if it’s not a positive one? Instead, I try to ignore that mood (I don’t want to be dragged down by that) and smile instead. Or I’ll say something nice, start a conversation with that person and perhaps, that will make them forget their bad day for a moment. I’m just open, attentive and friendly, no matter who is standing in front of me.
Is that exhausting? Or difficult?
For me, it is only lightly exhausting (but of course, I have to be in a good mood, myself). But when I’m feeling well and am having a good day, I can approach people in a really positive way. It really works easily once you’ve gotten used to it.
What does it change in the people who are approached by you with your open ways and smiles?
I get the impression that a smile can truly work wonders. Very often, I discovered that after the first “shock” (“Why is he so nice to me???”), most people smile back at me or were open to be involved in a small conversation. I also have a recent example: A couple of days ago, I went to a drugstore and was waiting in line to pay. While waiting, I noticed the girl at the cash desk. She was quiet, dragged the items over the scanner and altogether, she seemed like she wasn’t having a good time at all. She looked tired and unhappy. When it was my turn to pay, I asked her how she was. I showed true interest, asked her about her well-being and all that accompanied by an understanding smile. She surely didn’t quite know how to answer at first, but then she said: “It’s okay, thank you. But if you would take over the cash desk for me for a moment…?”. In that moment, she had to laugh and obviously forgot about the pain in her back for a moment. When I left the store, I turned around and looked back – she was still smiling.
Only very rarely, I get no reaction from the people I smile at.
What does it change inside yourself when you get positive reactions from other people?
It does make me a little happier, too. I believe that everybody enjoys a positive reaction towards their own behaviour. I’m a person who always seeks harmony, so I build my own, happy world. But it’s not about the “pink glasses” that I’m wearing to make everything look nicer than it is. I’m not like that. But I truly believe that a considerate, nice word, honest interest or a little smile can make people forget their problems for a moment and perhaps, make their day a bit happier.
Finally, do you have some good advice for my readers how to be a little more open and friendly, too?
A smile doesn’t cost a thing! Perhaps a tiny bit of willpower, but then it almost works automatically. Just wish someone a nice day – perhaps a person you see every day but never said hello to. You’ll be surprised how positive the reactions to a spontaneous smile can be. It’s wonderful, try it.
Show interest, be open and most importantly: just smile – even, if you don’t know the person you’re smiling at – that sounds like a great thing to do, but it’s definitely not that easy if you’re not used to it. Isn’t it easier to stay inside the borders of our comfort zone? Yes, it always is. But it’s not nearly as rewarding as trying to be more open and get positive reactions in return. I must say, my boyfriend taught me so much already and I’m trying every day to show more openness, interest and to smile more. And it is amazing how positive people react. With a smile on my face, I get so many smiles in return. And that, my dear readers, makes the world a little better. One step at a time.
As a perfect addition to this topic, I also have a nice video for you all. A film that shows in the most wonderful way, that it is not a self-understanding to recognize people smiling. A video you shouldn’t miss – it is so moving! Listerine helps blind people to “see” the smiles of other people again. Unbelievably beautiful!
I hope that this interview with my darling, my thoughts towards it and the film by Listerine could inspire you all a little, too. And mayyybe, you’ll want to try this smiling thing, too? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic and how your experiences with it were. Because if we all smile a little more, we can really make this world a better place – I’m so sure of that!