Have you ever heard that smiles are contagious? It’s absolutely true! But as with most things in life, there’s a catch. When people tell you that smiles are contagious, they usually don’t mention the fine print disclaimer. And that is, smiles are contagious…unless it’s Black Friday.

For some strange reasons, Black Friday shopping seems to be reserved for only the most miserable people on the planet. It’s as if the stress of the holiday season has sucked all the joy out of them. Don’t believe me? Let me tell you about an experiment I conducted a few years ago.

I decided to hit the mall with the intent of spreading some holiday cheer by smiling at everyone I encountered. After smiling at hundreds, perhaps thousands of people, I received exactly two smiles in return. One was from a little kid, and the other was from a saleswoman.

My experiment was an utter failure. The remainder of the crowd sadly looked like zombies stumbling in and out of stores, all while Christmas music was blaring from all around.

It was a stark reminder that simply smiling at someone is not enough to brighten their day.

However, don’t get me wrong, smiles are indeed contagious. But there are other factors to consider. If I walked past a drowning man, smiled, and walked away, would he have reason to smile back? Of course not! He would be too busy trying to stay alive to notice. If he had any thoughts towards me, it was probably about what a jerk I was for not trying to save him.

But if I smiled at him and threw him a life preserver, or tossed him some rope so I could pull him out, there is a much better chance he would smile back. Similarly, if I complimented someone on their boots or their beard, the odds are greater that they would smile back. Words of praise or an act of kindness go a long way.

If we want to bring joy to the lives of others, we need to give them a reason to smile back. It’s not enough to simply smile at someone and expect them to smile back. We need to take action and make a positive impact in their lives.

So the next time you’re at the mall on Black Friday or out in the world, don’t just smile. Be kind, offer help, and make someone’s day. That’s when you’ll see the power of a smile in action.

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