Readers of this column know that I am a big fan of Dale Carnegie, the master of making friends. I carry a poem from one of his books with me and often share it when I am speaking to groups. It's called "The Value of a Smile," and I hope you learn as much from it as I have.
"It costs nothing, but creates much. It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give. It happens in a flash and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None are so rich they can get along without it, and none so poor but are richer for its benefits.
"It creates happiness in the home, fosters goodwill in a business, and is the countersign of friends. It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and natures best antidote for trouble.
"Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen, for it is something that is no earthly good to anyone 'til it is given away. And if in the hurly-burly bustle of today's business world, some of the people you meet should be too tired to give you a smile, may we ask you to leave one of yours?
"For nobody needs a smile so much, as those who have none left to give."
I learned years ago that one of the most powerful things you can do to have influence with others is to smile at them. Never underestimate the value of a smile. The person who is smart enough to keep smiling usually winds up with something good enough to smile about.
People all over the world smile in the same language. A smile should be standard equipment for all people, both at work and at home. It takes only 17 muscles to smile and 43 to frown - so really, you have no excuse. Put on a happy face!
Smiling adds face value and helps you make a good impression. We like people who smile, because they appear warm and kind. They are more approachable.
Smiling encourages trust. People who are constantly smiling appear to be more trustful than those who are not.
People who smile are more productive. A 2010 study by Andrew Oswald, a professor of economics at Warwick Business School over in England, proved that employees who smile more often are significantly more productive and creative in the workplace.
Smiling enhances your disposition. The more you smile, the happier you are. And don't forget that the more you smile, the happier other people around you feel.
Smiling makes you more attractive. A smile is a very inexpensive way to improve your looks. People are naturally attracted to people who smile.
Smiling improves health. Studies have proven that when people smile, endorphins are released making people feel happy and less stressed. The more you smile, the happier and more relaxed you get. Surprisingly, this also works when faking a smile or laugh, as the brain can't differentiate between real or fake smiles.
Endorphins also act as natural pain killers. The added oxygen from smiling and laughing benefits your body while improving your immune system. Smiling releases more white blood cells, which protect the body against infectious diseases.
In a 2012 study published in the journal Psychological Science, University of Kansas psychological scientists Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman studied 170 participants who were told to hold chopsticks in their mouths in three formations, making them smile to various degrees without realizing it, after performing a stressful task. The experiment revealed that subjects who smiled the biggest with the chopsticks experienced a substantial reduction in heart rate and quicker stress recovery compared to those whose expressions remained neutral.
Finally, smiles are contagious, just like yawns. So smile and start an epidemic. Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important. That's why you should not only smile from "ear to ear" but from "year to year."
Mackay's Moral: Smiles never go up in price nor down in value.