24 Days of Kindness Challenge - Day 21

24 Days of Kindness Challenge: Day 21

Today we challenge you to make eye contact, smile, and say thank you.

After a long haul of isolation, quarantine, and lockdowns, our worlds are beginning to reopen. We are coming back together in small ways – at the grocery store, on the street, at the dog park. For months people have been avoiding each other. But now things are changing. Smiling, making eye contact, and saying thank you are all a part of us coming back together and reconnecting to what makes us human.

Smiling has a powerful effect on us. It makes us feel happier (while frowning makes us sadder, and scowling angrier). Smiling can boost our immune system, trigger serotonin and dopamine (chemicals that are connected to feelings of love and happiness), lower stress and even improve longevity.

However, smiling at strangers is a tad harder, especially when wearing a mask. Though a true Duchenne smile can be seen regardless. The Duchenne smile is considered the sole indicator of true enjoyment. It occurs when the zygomaticus major muscle lifts the corners of your mouth at the same time the orbicularis oculi muscles lift your cheeks and crinkle your eyes at the corners. To show a Duchenne smile, we must actually feel like smiling. Otherwise it reads as “polite” or exaggerated. To smile a Duchenne smile at strangers is a practice in compassion.

Saying thank you and making eye contact are important as well. All three create opportunities for connection. And that’s what the 24 Days of Kindness Challenge is all about: creating connections with others, practicing kindness, and finding ways to be a bit more human, even while standing 6 feet apart.

Share your experiences on our world map. See previous 24 Days of Kindness Challenge prompts here.

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