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A smile is a wonderful tool within the body language toolkit. A smile is a smile wherever you are in the world. It means the same thing, no matter the nation, no matter the culture.

Adding to the special nature of a smile is the fact that it cannot be faked. (I know a few people who think they have it nailed, but they don’t – a fake smile is totally transparent.)

A smile involves TWO sets of muscles – those around the mouth (the zygomaticus muscles), and those around the eyes (the orbicularis oculi). A meaningful smile always reflects in both the mouth and the eyes.

You can consciously fake the mouth part of the smile. But you cannot fake the eyes. You need endorphins – or “happy hormones” – to be released in your brain to trigger the eye muscles involved in a smile, to turn on the laughter lines. You actually need to feel happy.

Try it – put a pencil in your teeth, so that your moth is in a smiling position, and try and make your eyes smile. You can’t.

And what’s more – a real, happy smile is contagious. The body has an automatic mirror response to a smile. You smile at me, and I am highly likely to smile back – and to feel happy while I’m doing it.

There’s no reason why we shouldn’t use our smiles more during this turbulent time in our history. Smile at people. Even above your mask, they’ll be able to see your eyes smiling. They’ll smile back, and feel so much better for it.

Make it your mission to bring a moment of sunshine into someone’s day. Smile at them.