We’ve all done it: Smiled at a stranger while wearing a mask.

You feel silly, especially when they don’t smile back. What do you want? They don’t have X-ray vision! Besides, they might be smiling back. They might be as friendly and as crazy as you. But you won’t know because, just like your smile, theirs is covered by a mask.

I’m trying to get in the habit of nodding or going the whole 9 yards and speaking to people I don’t know. What’s the worst that could happen? They don’t speak back or maybe they go so far as to give you a dirty look.

So what?

You did the friendly thing. If the other guy can’t handle it, it’s not your fault. Smile for friends and family. Smile for strangers. Smile because you thought of something funny. Smile because you want people to think you’re up to something.

Smiling while wearing a mask is like doing the right thing: You might not get credit for it. Maybe nobody even knows you did it. But do it anyway, because it’s the right thing to do.

We should smile, whether it’s acknowledged or appreciated. Why? Because it’s good for the person who’s smiling.

At quickanddirtytips.com, several reasons are listed.

• When you’re happy, your body produces feel-good endorphins. When you smile, even if it’s forced, your body has the same reaction as when you’re really happy

• Smiling may help to reduce symptoms associated with anxiety. When that smile signals to your brain that you’re feeling happy (even though you aren’t), your body will usually slow its breathing and heart rate.

• Smiling at ourselves in the mirror improves our ability to give a genuine smile; people who smile a lot are perceived to be positive role models.

• According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 96% of American adults believe an attractive smile makes a person more appealing to members of the opposite sex.

But remember to brush and floss!

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