Reading for Treasure

The Power of a Smile

Posted at Aug 10, 2016 10:07 am

Every heroine knows this: A smile can turn a stranger into an ally, disarm and confuse a foe, and be the beginning of a friendship. At the very least it can defuse a volatile situation.

Years ago, during a hectic, tension-filled holiday shopping marathon, the antics of the shoppers in line in front of me whittled away at my patience. One insisted her out-of-date coupon should be honored, another demanded special attention from the clerk and yet a third complained loudly about the slow line, and the rude staff.

I wanted to snap at someone. Then I looked into the eyes of the cashier. If I was frustrated from spending a few minutes with cranky strangers, how must she feel after hours of it?

Instead of snapping at her when my turn came, I forced myself to give her a smile and a quick, friendly comment. Something miraculous happened. She smiled back. Her smile lightened my mood. My own smile became genuine, no longer forced.

smileAnd the shoppers around us began to thaw. Friendly exchanges replaced private grumbling.

In the years since, I’ve repeated the smile experiment hundreds of times. The results are always the same: people respond to a simple smile.

But as exciting as it was to discover the power of a smile, I should have learned to use one much sooner. My fictional friends—the heroines of books I loved—had been charming and disarming those around them for decades. I’d “seen” them use the technique time and time again between the pages of a book.

So if stress threatens to derail you, summon your inner princess, cowgirl, sleuth, spy or debutant. Step into the shoes (or boots) of a heroine and SMILE.

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