Why does everyone say "smile"?

I'm not typically a miserable person,, but not insanely happy either. The reason I say this, is because I am sick of being told to smile all the time. When talking to someone, and they make me laugh, I smile, and they make a huge deal of it. Like "There you go, I knew you could smile", "what's wrong with you, why are you not smiling?"

I am tired of being told I should smile more often. If I'm happy or find something funny, I'll smile. But if I'm thinking or worried, my face is neutral. I've even been bullied about it occasionally, people getting aggressive because they've had an exchange with me at work or otherwise and I'm not grinning away like a Cheshire Cat. Someone who used to be a friend once told me I had a facial expression like ice which gave nothing away, and that's why men would never approach me on nights out. I look like a miserable cow essentially, which is not true at all.

It's not intentional, I don't go around meaning to look as sad as possible. But has anyone else had others tell them how they should look. smile all the time etc. Its really annoying and I am starting to find it offensive.

25 Replies

  • Hi.My husband is always telling me to Cheer up .Its irritating because I'm perfectly alright.If he things I'm looking miserable,goodness knows what other people think !!

  • There's nothing worse. Unless they know what you're going through and genuinely mean it rather than just casual comment, it's hard not to bite their head off. But then maybe the simplicity of the statement sometimes snaps you out of the haze.

  • Yes. All the damn time.

    I am usually asked by a lot of people if "alright", because I apparently never smile and am always looking like i'm sad.

    But to be honest, I think it's just a side effect of either being intelligent or creative.

  • Your mind is on higher things! How wonderful and depressing at the same time :)

  • Haha, you could say being this way is both a gift and a curse :')

  • I would just smile as much as you can manage and then a little bit more. Everyone looks more attractive when they smile but also not everyone smiles as easily and some look more serious. It takes all sorts.

    There's nothing wrong with smiling at perfect strangers if in passing they give you a cheery good morning. You are presumably well-mannered enough to say good morning back and why not give them a smile to go with it.

    Because a smiling face is less threatening people like to be greeted with a smile even if you have n't been told a joke. Generally its a good thing to make others happier and a smile is the cheapest way to do this. A smile is more than a reaction to humour ,its a way of showing you're friendly.

  • I just don't get why I would smile if I didn't feel like it. I find it very hard to smile if it's not genuine. A counsellor told me I don't give much about myself away when someone first meets me, but once a conversation gets going, I open up.

    I am quite reserved, I don't feel the need to advertise who I am to everyone, because they have their own preoccupations. But someone who instructs you to smile- are you going to feel like smiling? Sometimes I feel like telling them to leave me alone, and it's no concern of theirs how I look, even though I know they don't mean anything bad. But if someone makes me laugh, it's fine.

    just smiling at someone, like a stranger feels odd, if you have no reason to. But sharing a joke, or talking about the day and smiling makes more sense.

    But I guess this explains why i am so bad at attracting people on nights out :D

  • I know what you mean. In fact I get both sides. If I am not smiling I get told to cheer up and if I do smile I sometimes get asked what's so funny, even if I am justing smiling cause I am happy. It's funny cause the people who usually say it aren't the most cheerful people I have met.

    It wasn't funny at the time but I have had a medical professional advise that I smile very day and things will be better. That was after I had to wait 30 minutes because the appointments were late and they hadn't even read my notes when I spoke to them. I didn't feel like smiling that day. However, I do find it funny now, but in a sad way.

    I say smile when you want and be genuine there are too many people in the world putting on false airs and graces. :-D

  • when I was severally depressed in college, my lectures kept telling me to smile and I couldn't and it annoyed me how they kept bugging me and every time I thought who walks around with a permanent smile on their face. fast forward to this year and I have met some one who is always smiling and I wonder how and why shes able to do it

  • Do you think it's just a way people have of behaving when someone in the group doesn't look happy ? I think human nature mostly wants those around them to be in the same mood as themselves and usually smiling , laughing or expressions that are similar indicate that.

    It is annoying if you are constantly told to cheer up but its not done maliciously I don't think. I feel comfortable when those surrounding me look cheerful. Unless it's a funeral !!

  • Hi,

    I have no idea the reason for commenting on someone smiling or not. The only reason is if someone asks for a information. My face is usually animated and I talk a lot so if I'm not or my face is still I might be told to "cheer up", but not specifically smile. What is it that bothers you about being told to smile?


  • Because it's my face, it's to show how you're feeling at that point. I'm not good at fake expressions. I don't mind someone telling me to smile if they are being kind, but I've had others being almost aggressive with it, like it personally offends them.

    I just think it's invasive to tell someone how they should look, and I get tired of explaining that I'm ok, I'm not thinking about the inevitability of death or something! Especially men, when they say oh look there's a smile, I knew you could actually smile. I keep my face neutral, but obviously it looks depressed. My ex fiancé never told me to smile, but he would make me laugh or chat to cheer me up, that's much nicer than being instructed to be happy.

  • I agree it is nicer to be made to laugh rather than for someone to challenge you about how you are expressing yourself. I think there is nothing worse than being instructed to smile. How are you feeling in yourself?


  • In general? Or moments like that?

  • Both really. In general how are you feeling and in particular how do you feel when this happens?

  • I don't really know how to answer that.

  • Hello

    You can say, good morning in the morning and goodbye, hello etc as the situation arises, that may make then see you conversing with Them and that may make them smile to you and you can reciprocate a front facial as the mouth will perk as you talk

    Hope I have helped.

    Also look into the persons face while you talk, you need not stare just give them that attention.

    I had the same problem and when I had too talk at meetings I would keep my head down. Now when I or someone else is talking I watch their face and you will find when you do that their Eyes will follow yours. While you do that move your head casually from site to side bringing other people into the conversation never lower your head only when reading lift your head at intervals bringing people into your words

    You do not need to stare etc, all will come more easy given time. When you do that you will find someone will want to bring you into a conversation, or their Views

    Good Luck


  • They say the same thing to me don't know what to do

  • Maybe because you have what I have, bitchy resting face. Read this and you might crack a smile (well for a second coz you and I both know that smiling aint all it is said to be).


  • A friend told me I have an ice queen face. Or maybe a poker face.

  • All joking aside, I sympathise with you. I find it hard to meet new people and maybe it is partly down to the fact that I am reserved too and have a poker face until I feel more relaxed with someone. This is not any intention to hurt anyone, but I think it can make people feel as if I am being standoffish and maybe judging them badly. Really it is because I have difficulty reading other people, and like to take my time, or I can end up misreading the situation and make an inappropriate comment.

    Rather than being nagged about it, I would have much preferred to have been offered help in how to socialise when younger. However society is only now waking up to the fact that not all of us are equally good at socialising. It might be a form of Aspergers, or lack of practise. I was brought up in a family that did not encourage big shows of emotion, and was often told off for making a noise if I expressed myself. Keeping quiet and not showing my emotions was considered good manners and was praised.

    We also did not socialise a lot with other people, as living out in the country not many friends would come over, and my parents hardly ever took us to group events. We were encouraged to enjoy activities within the family, or ones that we could pursue alone. My mother encouraged me to read a lot, as it meant she could spend more time with my younger sisters.

    I think my parents were good at hiding their true feelings too, and to this day I could not tell you what they really think about something. It is partly down to their generation and the whole stiff upper lip thing, and maybe because both my parents had dominating older siblings. It makes it difficult to know how to help them or if they need help now they are old. I tend to put my foot in it when I try to help out.

    I do wish I could be more outgoing and social, as it can be lonely, but is it possible to learn these skills past the age of 50?

    Just a thought though, there are many people who use humour and joking around as a defense mechanism too, so they may be feeling as insecure as me, but show it in a different way. These people never say anything serious until they get to know you. I find them really hard to cope with, so I do have a little sympathy for people who struggle to understand me.

  • I understand completely. When I was younger I sometimes used to be shunned from groups for being too quiet or misreading a social situation and saying something "stupid". But I was still able to form good individual friendships, maybe with two or three people. Nowadays I can accept myself and feel nowhere near as paranoid about not being in a group.

    Whether that has something to do with having a resting face rather than being all smiley and social I don't know. Funny you mention Aspergers, I don't always understand social behaviours. I have a friend who says "I'll call you" and I wondered "why? What is there to talk about?" Or people who are touchy feely and constantly make physical contact with friends. I like respect of personal boundaries and maybe the odd hello goodbye hug. I wouldn't say it's autism, but maybe just a different social personality.

    Maybe people with neutral faces are more relaxed! They are not worrying about how they look to others, or feel the need to be fake in social encounters. I am the worst at pretending to be all bubbly and excited to see someone unless it's genuine :P grin or grimace haha

  • The phrase 'I'll call you' is just one of those things people say, which are not meant to be taken seriously, I think.

  • I suppose so but why say it if you don't plan on doing anything? Maybe I'll never understand that kind of thing!

  • Yes I know, very annoying. I find myself saying things like this sometime, just to fit in I suppose, but maybe I am annoying people too. Must self check. Thanks for bringing it up. Got to go now, talk later, ok? (Only joking) ;)

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