May 11, 2020
How to Unmask Your Smile
Many of us now spend our days interacting behind screens. We are starved for personal connection, yet we can’t even visit our mothers. When we go out, we must stay far away from people and cover our faces.
My favorite cashier at the local market tells me, from behind her mask and the plexiglass shield, that suburban New Yorkers are now even more brusque than usual. They don’t say hello—or much of anything. We chat and I help her bag and she thanks me for stopping to talk. Her eyes sparkle. They smile. I try to make mine smile back.
Have you ever met someone whose eyes shimmer with joy? Have you ever consciously tried to smile with your eyes? It’s a skill we’d all best improve today. We need it at the grocery store and we need it on Zoom. Our eyes communicate a lot.
What makes eyes smile? Quite simply, the qualities opposite of fear: love, joy, generosity, gratitude, compassion, wonder, creativity. When we are afraid or hateful, our eyes cloud. When we are feeling loving, joyous, generous, grateful, compassionate, curious, or creative, our eyes light up. They shimmer and sparkle and smile, like my cashier’s. Despite her role serving the public under high-stress conditions, she has found a source of joy. The joy prevails over fear and lights up her eyes. In this way, she creates genuine connections with those who are open to connecting with her. Likely, these connections help her move forward with her day.
The present world crisis—as crises often do—has conjured up clouds of fear. But to live in fear is to become consumed by the inertia of no. When we allow the inertia of no to consume us, our thinking powers become crippled. We become followers rather than leaders. Possibility crumbles into victimhood. We forfeit our ability to think constructively and creatively. Ultimately, our fear turns into varying degrees of hatred for our fellow human beings.
Without our smiles in full view, without handshakes, without hugs, and with mask-muffled voices, we now need to use other tools to communicate and connect with those around us. We need to use our eyes.
How do you conjure up an eye smile?
Think of something that makes you feel joyful, generous, grateful, curious—about life in general or about the person that stands before you. That intentional thought will light up your heart and light up your eyes. Even hidden by a mask, your smile will be seen. Likely, you will make someone’s day just a little bit warmer, a bit more human. And the world will become a bit of a better place to live.
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Kathryn Haydon helps you maximize your creative strengths so you can do your best work. Through keynotes, workshops, and consulting, she trains individuals, leaders, and teams to find the unique spark that leads to deep engagement and productivity.