A smile cannot be faked. Try it. Put a pencil between your teeth so that your mouth is in a smiling position, and see if you can trigger the muscles at your eyes, to produce the characteristic crinkling that accompanies a smile. You can’t.

A REAL smile involves two sets of muscles – those around the mouth and those around the eyes. The muscles around the eyes are triggered only by the EMOTION that we feel when we smile. Whatever that emotion is, whether it be happiness, tenderness, caring or love, it will always be a positive emotion.

Right now, with everyone wearing masks, we are being deprived of smiles.

South Africans are warm, friendly people. But the masks seem, somehow, to be muting our natural inclination to congeniality. People are sombre and stiff. (I’m generalizing, based on my experience in shopping queues etc.) It’s so sad.

But we still have our eyes showing above our masks – and it’s SMILING EYES that truly show the emotion of a smile. I hope that, as we move into what will likely be months of mask-wearing, we start reverting to our natural warm type, make contact, smile, and share our SMILING EYES.