After a lovely two week vacation to Sri Lanka, I am now accustomed to smiling at people completely at random. Sri Lanka is a very smile-friendly place (even the monkey smile there as per above!) and I think it has something to do with Buddhism being the predominant religion there, very much like Thailand is also a land of smiles and Buddha.
So in Sri Lanka, whenever you speak to someone, see them on the street or just walk past them – you smile and the other person smiles back. It’s a bit weird at first but when you get used to it, smiling becomes a natural state for you. And when smiling constantly you feel happier overall, it’s a physiological thing researchers claim (I can only claim that it works for me).
Does smiling work in London?
As Dale Carnegie famously wrote in “How To Make Friends and Influence People” that everybody likes a smile. Everyone from Ron Gutman to the Dalai Lama talks about the power of the smile. But the big city isn’t renowned for its smiling inhabitants. How does smiling work on the London tube in the morning? Well, some folks probably think I’m a yokel or still intoxicated from last night’s drinks but most people actually either smile back or give me a nice little nod – very British that.
Does a vacation smile last?
Well when I was in Thailand many years ago I remember the same smile thing a few weeks afterwards and then it fizzled out. England is not a country accustomed to strangers smiling at each other and therefore I am making the most of it now until I probably return into the fold. I will do my best to keep it going, afterall why shouldn’t it last?
A smile prevents bad thoughts: you try it!
My workshop co-presenter Malcolm Levene says that “when you’re smiling, you can’t think of anything bad”. This actually works, try putting on a big smile and see if you can think any bad thoughts. Again, it’s the physiology of the smile that makes it hard for the brain to process any bad news.