Smiles are powerful. You’ve probably met a few gifted people, like I have, who radiate warmth and friendliness all the time. They smile so much that just being around them charges your spiritual battery. Babies are experts in this as well. Without saying a word, they lighten your day with their smiles.

These days, many companies train their employees to smile at customers, even when they’re talking to them on the phone. Of course, the professional smile can at times seem insincere. As a matter of fact, extensive research has been done on the nature of smiling to determine which smiles appear genuine. These findings are useful in selecting juries or determining the honesty of someone that needs to be trusted.

That said, even though we know that these professional smiles are sometimes insincere, we still miss them when they’re not there, as anyone knows who has felt the negative effects of a scowl from a grumbling cashier.

I recently read an article about a man named Hans Bergen who lived in the tiny town of Ida, Holland, whose face was disfigured. He lived a lonely life, rejected socially by everyone in his community and spurned by his own relatives.

Everyone he met seemed to ignore or mock him, except for one young girl named Anna Martin, who gave him a kind smile, the one and only time she met him. When this man died, he left a considerable amount of money to her in his will in appreciation for the kindness that she showed him. “She was the only one who smiled at me,” he wrote.

A friend of mine experienced a similar story. Helga was volunteering in Thailand when she met an elderly farmer resting on the beach on his vacation. She gave him a friendly smile and struck up a conversation. Over the course of the next 20 years, they continued to write each other once a month or so, but they never met again. Then one day, Helga received a letter from this man’s lawyer, saying that he had left her a large inheritance in gratitude for the kindness and concern that she’d shown him in her communication.

Never underestimate the value of a smile. It costs nothing, and we all have an infinite stock to give away.

Mother Teresa (1910–1997) on smiling

Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.

Peace begins with a smile.

Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.

We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.