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Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Decision to Smile

Recently, it has occurred to me that I smile a lot. I often do not even realize that I am smiling. It has always been just a part of who I am.

Living in Warsaw, I have become very aware of my smiling. I notice that many people here do not smile. There is often either a snarl, some seeming anger or just a blank expression. When i do look at someone and smile, the reaction is very strange. I get a feeling that I am being looked at as if I am up to something ... or that I want something ... or "what the hell is wrong with him?"

I will not play therapist and try to figure out why Poles do not smile very much. Maybe it is the Winter ... I do not know. The good part is that when I do meet someone on the street who returns a smile, it makes my day!

My decision? Smile at everyone ... and make them wonder what the hell I am up to!


  1. You're at the easy stage. Wait until you find that you also start not to smile, immediately feel guilty that you're not smiling, then think it's absurd to feel guilty because others don't smile, finally deciding that you want to smile anyway. Then, having gone through this and the person gives you an odd look, you start to feel paranoid about the possibility that your face has been twitching through this thought process, making you look crazy rather than friendly. If so, welcome to the club.

    Actually, I think the strange look you get often comes from the other person only expecting friends to smile at each other. He is therefore thinking that he doesn't know you, has definitely never even met you, but that you somehow appear to know him. He is racking his brains to try and figure out how, looking at you closely to try and get some clue about something that has so completely disappeared from his consciousness that, had you not smiled, he would have sworn was impossible.

  2. LOL! Again, thank you so much. I love your comments!

  3. From the Polish point of view, the thing is that we don't realise that we don't smile. We think we smile just enough. It must be a whole different body language. So perhaps what you perceive as a snarl means a 100% smile to us.

    The American style smile seems to Poles insincere because it's something we do only among close friends, and only when we're very merry, like laughing about something.

    I wouldn't be worried about it though. We'll get used to smiling Americans with time.