“When I had connected with people from other cultures who did not speak any of the languages that I do. I smiled. I smiled at everyone around me. I smiled indiscriminately, I smiled widely, I smiled continuously. Whether people looked at me or not, I smiled at them.
Moreover, I noticed that when I smiled, I felt better and more confident, and that a genuine smile could change the way people looked at me even if they didn’t know me. I also learned that by passing along smiles to others, I could create rapport and a human connection, and that others seemed happier when they smiled back. Finally, I discovered that when I increased my smiling, I was more attentive to my own being. These insights began to transform my life in unimaginable ways.” Phyllis Diller says “A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”
And it is often said that Smile is universal language that knows no geographical barriers.
We’re actually born smiling. Researchers have used 3-D ultrasound imaging to capture vivid pictures in which babies appear to smile in the womb. Interestingly, smiling is one of the first facial expressions we learn to control. When babies are born, they first smile in their sleep. Shortly thereafter, when they’re just over a month old, they actually “learn” to consciously smile. Learning how to smile is accepted today as a developmental milestone in children, and it was observed as early as 1872 by the father of the theory of evolution, Charles Darwin, who catalogued the early smiling behavior of his own children. In his book Expression of the Emotion in Man and Animals, Darwin wrote, “I carefully watched my own infants. One of them at the age of 45 days, and being at the time in a happy frame of mind, smiled…. I observed the same thing on the following day: but on the third day the child was not quite well and there was no trace of a smile, and this renders it probable that the previous smiles were real.” Babies’ first smiles are a natural response to their environment; they smile as a reply to their mother’s touch and to what stimulates them. Even blind babies smile in response to the sound of the human voice. And soon babies come to understand that their own smiles have the powerful effect of creating reactions and triggering responses from other people. By three months of age, babies learn that they can inspire smiles in others by looking at them. Shortly thereafter, they begin to engage in one of the first childhood games they initiate, the smiling exchange game.
As noted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, a “smiling exchange” occurs when a baby smiles at someone in order to get that person to smile back at the baby, and when that person smiles back, the baby in turn smiles again. Something about smiling is fundamental to who we are and how we naturally connect with others. In fact, the smile not only is the most recognizable facial expression, but it also helps us recognize others. The ability to recognize a smile is also developed very early in life—when we are just a few months old. Research published in the Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society has revealed that we are so tuned in to smiles that we can detect a smile from more than 300 feet away, at twice the distance we can distinguish other facial expressions. Smiling is evolutionarily important to us as a species. We developed the ability to detect smiles from afar so we could know whether a person who was approaching us was a friend or a foe.