Toby Harris: On Smiling

Say cheese!

People say, “A smile a day keeps the doctor away”…. and if they don’t…they should. As Mother Theresa said, “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” It is always a pleasant surprise to come across a smiling face but it is all too infrequent. The norm is for people to keep heads down, headphones in and remain closed off. No! I want a hug, not a handshake; I want a kiss, not a high five and if you don’t want me that close to you…at least give me a smile.

A hearty grin and a gleam of the nashers is a genuine smile. It is a product of engagement and interest in what those around you do and say. There is always something to smile about. Apologies for bastardising Jay-Z’s song, ‘99 problems’, but in most cases, we have 99 solutions and only the one problem. Deadlines may be fast approaching and exams are almost upon us but the good things are what get us through the troublesome. Don’t let the little things get you down. Shrug ‘em off and keep that radiant glean.


If you have regular dentist visits and see the hygienist at least once a year, you may as well flaunt what you got. What’s more, if you had train-track braces and the old retainer treatment, you may as well put those costly choppers to good use and get them out on display.

If you need them, here are three reasons why we should all smile more:

1) Smiling makes those around you smile too. Several studies have found that a long-onset smile (0.5s onset) is seen as more authentic and flirtatious, and is perceived as more attractive and trustworthy.

2) Being cheerful is said to improve your immune system as smiling lowers the heart rate and relaxes the body. Through a St Andrews winter, you will have plenty more to feel chuffed about. Do away with the Vitamin C, Canada Goose coats and triple-ply cashmere sweaters – all you need is a wholesome chuckle.

3) According to The British Dental Health Foundation, a loving smile can produce the same emotional response as eating 2,000 chocolate bars (that of course depends on the size and brand). As they say, “a moment on the lips is a lifetime on the hips”, but whilst the smile is a moment on the lips it doesn’t bare any ramifications for those hips!

I will leave you with a quote to smile about…”A smile costs nothing, but creates much. It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give. It happens in a flash and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.”

– Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People.