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Smiling is more important than you think

Publisher, editor-in-chief and author at Chicken Soup for the Soul.

I know this will prove to my kids that I really am a dork, but here's one of my favorite jokes, maybe because it's short enough for me to remember.

I heard it from a tour guide in Australia. "What do Australians call a boomerang that doesn't come back?" Answer: "A stick."

The boomerang, credited to Australia's indigenous people, was a great invention. If you threw one and you failed to hit your target, the boomerang would come right back to you and nothing was lost.

Smiles are like boomerangs. When you throw them out there, they invariably come right back to you, unless you are an American tourist in Australia trying to throw a boomerang for the first time while your four teenage kids watch you.

It's rare that a smile won't be returned. If you encounter someone grouchy, try smiling and see what happens. No matter what kind of day you are having, smile. You can't help but have a better day as a result because your smile will change the way people react to you.

We have published many stories about the power of smiling, including one of my favorites, called "Let’s Face It," in our book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Resolution. Cristy Trandahl relates how she overheard a cashier at her local convenience store whispering to a co-worker about a "crabby-looking lady." Cristy looked around to see who it was. She found the crabby lady, whose "eyes were small slits" and who had "a deep furrow" on her forehead, and then realized she was looking in a mirror.

That night Cristy made a simple resolution: to smile. It took practice, but over time it came to her naturally. Her hallelujah moment came when she walked into a coffee shop months later and overheard the cashier remark to a co-worker, "There’s that happy-looking lady again."

I knew a stockbroker who was sent to federal prison camp for a securities industry violation and was abandoned by most of her friends. I made sure to visit her every month for two and a half years and what I remember most is her broad smile every time she came into the visiting room. I know she was miserable; after all, she was a single mother who was constantly worried about how her kids were doing without her. But she put on a big smile, and it motivated me to continue visiting her. I noticed how nice the guards were to her too.

The renowned motivational speaker and author Denis Waitley said, "A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside." It helps you connect with the outside world because it shows everyone who's in there behind that face.

Read another story that will make you smile from Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive, "Waiting With a Smile."

Photo credit: Andrew Olney/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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