Walking down the aisle of the airplane holding his father’s fingers is a young boy, maybe two years old. I noticed him because he was moving so slowly from the front of the plane. Watching, I see him stopping at each row and gazing up at the too-busy adult sitting there. When they would finally look at him, he would smile and then turn to the other side where he repeated his staredown. It also became clear that he had these adults paying more attention to him and making every effort to smile back.
Frankly, I couldn’t wait until he got to my row so I could beat him to the smile — which I did. He started grinning really big, pulled out his pacifier and laughed out loud. Then onward he went to pull his next row out of their busy world and bring a smile to their faces. Kids can teach us so much. (In his book In Awe, John O’Leary shares so many incredible insights we can learn from children.)
This young boy actually lifted the spirits and energy in our plane. That precious smile was too much for even the busiest adult.
A smile matters. The habit of smiling increases our energy level, inspires others, connects, reduces stress, influences and invites others to connect with us. It’s easy to do and easy not to do. It’s a choice — one that makes a big difference in how we are perceived and how effective we can be in influencing others. Try it when you’re stressed. A smile will carry us a long way towards our full potential and I bet you will meet more new friends.