Smile!

smileI read a blog a few weeks ago over at Anonymously Autistic about remembering the rules of social interaction. The author, Anna, has a written list of rules she follows to make sure she’s interacting with people correctly. Say hi. Smile. Talk a little, listen a lot.

I can relate to a number of things she listed, but the one that stood out to me was “Smile.” I smile a lot. I laugh a lot. Smiling when I first make eye contact with someone? That’s difficult, especially on a bad day.

My mom was shocked to learn that I struggle with smiling at people. I was raised to make eye contact, be polite, etc. I think my mother’s insistence that I make eye contact is the only reason I manage to do it now. So what about smiling? That comes with practice–practice I can do every day, a few times a day, even if I’m 100% alone.

A few years ago, probably around the time I started working at Denny’s, I made it a habit to smile whenever I saw a face. It did not have to be a real face. I have a pillow of Mitt Romney’s head (which I adoringly call Romney-Face), and even though it’s definitely cartoon-y, I still smile at it. That habit expanded to . . . the bathroom; specifically, the mirror. I made it a habit to smile any time I looked at myself in the mirror, which did great things for my self-esteem and for my ability to smile at people when I make eye contact.

What about on bad days? Same thing. It’s a legitimate habit. If I make eye contact with someone, I smile just as bright as I would on a good day. I still smile at the mirror. It helps a little. I do still have really bad days, on which I will actually avoid looking in the mirror because I don’t feel like smiling. Weird, right?

What about you? Any social rules you have to consciously follow? Do you do well with making eye contact and smiling at people?

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3 thoughts on “Smile!

  1. Good question. I’ve had people accuse me of laughing at them when I smile. Also, it seems many people are afraid of making eye contact with strangers on the street, for instance. I sometimes feel disingenuous when I try to make eye contact or smile when I’m in a bad mood.

    Like

    • Interesting that people would think you’re laughing at them. That says a lot about people’s insecurities. The thing that gets me is how many people seem surprised when I make eye contact, like they aren’t used to someone acknowledging them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You got that right. I think you make some people’s days, simply by acknowledging their existence. It encourages me to do more of it, and it’s an excellent reason to spread the idea. Too many lonely people out there. Eye contact and a smile can go a long way.

        Liked by 1 person

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