Growing up who did not secretly wish, even briefly to be a super hero? Personally, I always wanted to be Wonder Woman. Her ability to spin around and change clothes, transforming from ordinary Diana Prince to Princess Diana AKA Wonder Woman mesmerized me. Never mind that the television character played by Lynda Carter in the 1970’s stood apart as absolutely gorgeous, was clothed in a fabulous costume with fancy red boots, carried a magic lasso and wore powerful bracelets! Sadly, there is nothing about me comparable to Wonder Woman, but guess what?!?!? I do have a super power, my smile. Laugh if you must, but I’ll tell you a secret, a smile, and not just mine, any smile, has the ability to transform.
I just returned from a trip abroad where I spent two weeks travelling through Kenya. In a nation of dark eyed, dark haired and dark skinned people, my green eyes, blonde hair and pale skin definitely stood out. Wherever we went, people stared. Honestly, it was rather unnerving and made me quite uncomfortable. As someone who likes to blend in and not draw attention to myself, that just wasn’t possible in Kenya. Choosing not to let this particular situation ruin my visit, I disarmed people with my smile. It was actually quite fun. As we walked around, I tried to catch people staring and when I did, I would simply flash them a brilliant smile. It was amazing to watch what happened. Every time I smiled, the face of whomever was staring quickly erupted into a smile of their own. Quite often the smile was accompanied by the greeting, “How are you?” To which I would reply, “Fine, and how are you?” My husband and our host started teasing me each time it happened asking if I was making friends again.
Smiles don’t just work in Africa; their power can break barriers across the globe. I know because I’ve used them in China, Haiti, Guatemala, London, Greece and all over the United States. They work especially well when there is a language barrier. A smile in any language means the same thing, it’s a human connection that says, “I see you, I acknowledge your presence, and you have value.” Don’t believe me? I dare you to try it. Are you someone who generally goes around mean mugging the world? Try smiling and see if it doesn’t make a difference not only in the world around you, but in your own heart too. Granted, no one can smile all the time. We are human. We hurt. We get angry. And, we forget the power of a smile. I am merely suggesting that we simply make a concerted effort.
Not only can your smile change someone else, it has a powerful effect on you! Try this; next time your phone rings at work, before you answer, take a deep breath and smile. I guarantee that one, tiny; seemingly insignificant action can alter the course of that call. Even if the caller is angry, and yelling at you, your smile, though unseen can disarm a volatile situation.
We can’t all be super heroes, particularly since those exist only in a fantasy world, but nevertheless, we all have a super power, our smile. If yours has lain dormant, I challenge you to pick it up, brush the dust off and put it to work!
Until Next Time,
Becky J. Miller