I’ve been smiling a lot lately. It’s a little experiment I’m conducting. I’m making a point of smiling at people — people I pass on the street, people who cut me off in traffic, people I pass in the aisles at the supermarket, everyone I see.

It’s especially effective on people who work behind counters like the butcher or at the deli. My friend works part-time at a deli and she says people don’t even get off their cell phones anymore, they just bark out their order and completely ignore the human being on the other side of the counter. Where has human interaction gone?

In my experiment it’s not enough to just move my facial muscles. I’m making eye contact and then giving a warm, sincere smile.

It’s interesting to see the effect it has on people. They actually have a physical reaction. It’s unexpected and it’s like the walls are dropped and they can be at ease for a moment.

Everyone is so grumpy lately. I’m trying to be empathetic because I know people are worried about money and how they are going to pay their mortgages and feed their kids. I’m trying to be understanding about rude behavior.

It’s not easy. But smiling helps and it makes me feel good.

Give it a try. Smile like you mean it. It’s contagious.