Being more of a homebody than anything else, I’ve been trying to make an effort to get out of the house more often, simply to just be outdoors and get some much-needed Vitamin D.

During my short trips outside the four walls of my home, I’ve noticed a strange but increasingly common trend: unsmiling people.

I’m guilty of it, too.

Here’s why I feel the act of smiling at others is dying a slow death:

1. We’re too busy looking down at our smartphones. This one is me. *sigh*

2. We’re becoming increasingly distrustful of other people, even neighbors.

3. We’re wary about making new friends.

4. We’re more comfortable being friends online, rather than in real life. Guilty of this one as well.

5. We’re busy, rushed, stressed, worried, or all of these.

Smiling is good not only for our own health, as studies have shown, but is a simple way to forge a bond, an unspoken way to say “hello”, an indication of your interest in the other person.

Just spending a little time with my daughter in the park shows me how often (or rather, how rarely) I smile at those around me. She’s a smiler, my little girl, as are most kids.

A smile is a simple way to form a connection, an easy, unspoken way to say, “Hello there!” or “I care.”

Here’s how to make smiling at others easier (and this is a note to myself, as well):

1. Look up and around you when you’re out for a walk, at the store or in the subway. Looking up from our tablets, iPods or smartphones is a

2. Start small, if it feels strange. Smile at the person in the elevator – most likely, someone who lives in the same building as you do. Or smile at the barista in the coffee shop you frequent. They may not return it {because they, too, may have forgotten} but that’s okay! Keep at it!

3. Set a small goal. I have a goal of smiling at three people when I go for my walk. Three may seem tiny to many, but for an INTJ like yours truly, it’s a mountain to climb.

4. It’s okay if it feels strange. It’s like learning to swim or walk, for that matter. It seems difficult and odd and then, before you know it, it’s second nature.

5. Notice the difference it makes in how you feel. I come back from my short walks feeling more energized and happier. Smiling does that. It just makes you feel happy inside. Tough to feel grumpy when you’re smiling, right? Try it.

6. Notice how it opens up opportunities for new friendships. You wouldn’t become friends with everyone you smile at and that’s perfectly fine. But every once in a while, someone you smile at might stop by and say “hello”, and that could be the start of a lovely friendship.

This spring, when you head out to enjoy the gorgeous weather, remember to smile at one person, other than friends and family. How can you help smiling make a comeback this season?