SMIL­ING FROM THE HEART

City ex­pats talk about gen­uine and fake smiles fol­low­ing World Smile Day

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - CITY PANORAMA - The story was com­piled by Zhou Ping based on a Global Times video.

Al­though many coun­tries cel­e­brate the World Smile Day on the first Fri­day of Oc­to­ber ev­ery year, there is an­other ver­sion of this fes­ti­val in China which is cel­e­brated an­nu­ally on May 8. It en­cour­ages peo­ple to main­tain a healthy life­style phys­i­cally and men­tally, and to build a friendly and har­mo­nious so­ci­ety.

Smiles ev­ery­one, smiles!

Smil­ing is very im­por­tant in a per­son’s daily life. The hu­man face has 44 mus­cles which al­low us to make more than 5,000 dif­fer­ent types of ex­pres­sions, most of which are smiles.

When some­thing good hap­pens or some­one is hav­ing fun, one grins with­out much thought. Smil­ing is a nat­u­ral re­sponse to share hap­pi­ness with oth­ers. A gen­uine smile pleases not only peo­ple around them but also the per­son them­selves. When a per­son smiles for hap­pi­ness, his or her body pumps out more feel-good en­dor­phins, which ben­e­fits one’s health.

But smil­ing can also be a sim­ple cour­tesy. One has to fake a smile in some sit­u­a­tions to please oth­ers who they ac­tu­ally dis­like. In to­day’s elec­tronic prod­uct-dom­i­nated so­ci­ety, even fake smiles can be pre­cious, when most peo­ple keep look­ing down at their screen. The Global Times re­cently asked some for­eign­ers in Shanghai about World Smile Day.

Most of our in­ter­vie­wees told the Global Times that they were not aware of it.

Larisa from Rus­sia said she knows of the day, but her boyfriend Stepan had no idea what the fes­ti­val is about. Both Pe­dro and Juliet from Mex­ico said they’ve never heard about it. Austin from the US, Ra­mon from Spain and Maya from Ro­ma­nia do not know ei­ther. Max from Turkey and Eva from Kyrghyzs­tan know the fes­ti­val.

Most in­ter­vie­wees agree with each other that it is easy to tell a fake smile from a gen­uine smile by the body lan­guage, but some think it’s too hard.

“You can see the dif­fer­ence in the face of peo­ple and we can un­der­stand if it’s a fake smile or not. But some­times I don’t un­der­stand. Some­times I can’t un­der­stand which

smile in Asian peo­ple’s face is gen­uine,” Larisa said.

Juliet thinks we can tell if one smiles from his heart by the wrin­kles on his face. “When it’s gen­uine you get wrin­kles in your eyes.” And Pe­dro rec­og­nizes a gen­uine smile if their whole face makes a ges­ture. “When it’s a fake smile it’s just in the mouth,” he said. Both Juliet and Pe­dro said they have seen more gen­uine smiles than fake ones.

Austin be­lieves a fake smile oc­curs when a per­son is be­ing po­lite and wants other peo­ple to feel good, but a gen­uine smile ap­pears when a per­son ac­tu­ally feels it. “I think you can see it and hear it in a per­son’s laugh or in their face,” he added.

“You feel a gen­uine smile on their skin. It’s very dif­fer­ent. I have seen more po­lite smiles than gen­uine ones,” Ra­mon said.

Smil­ing is lucky

Maya said a real smile comes from the heart and she makes a fake smile when she wants to please other peo­ple but is not pleased her­self. “I see more fake smiles. Smil­ing

means hap­pi­ness but peo­ple just smile un­gen­uinely,” Maya said.

Max agrees that one can eas­ily tell a gen­uine smile by their body lan­guage in their eyes and face and that he has seen more gen­uine smiles in China. “When I ask some­one, even though he doesn’t know what I’m talk­ing about he just gives me this kind of smile.”

Eva said she had not seen many fake smiles. “Peo­ple around me al­ways smile to me and it comes from the heart. Ev­ery per­son is dif­fer­ent, so is the smile. I think Chi­nese peo­ple are re­ally hon­est and very kind. I’m try­ing to be the same.”

Smil­ing has a magic power which can draw strangers closer and dis­solve em­bar­rass­ment and awk­ward­ness. Like a pop­u­lar say­ing goes “A smil­ing per­son will al­ways be lucky.” Most smiles will make com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween strangers eas­ier.

“Some peo­ple smile to me and I also smile to them,” Larisa said. “When I’m just walk­ing by and I’m think­ing, I look up and I see some­one look­ing at me, I will smile to them,” said Juliet.

Austin said he usu­ally smiles at some­one who is do­ing some­thing nice, to let them know it is nice. Maya said she smiles to strangers as much as pos­si­ble. When walk­ing on the street and mak­ing eye con­tacts with strangers, she will smile at them. She also likes to smile when buy­ing things from a shop to give a bit of hap­pi­ness to oth­ers.

Some­times a smile is even more pow­er­ful than lan­guage. “I’m not good with Chi­nese lan­guage, so when some­one tries to speak with me in Chi­nese and I don’t know, I give him the deep smile,” Max said.

“Of course I smile to strangers a lot. Like just now, I smile to the cam­era,” said Eva.

Pho­tos: VCG and Xiang Jun/GT

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