We live in the world of prejudices and stereotypes, which sometimes make our life more fun or more difficult, depending on circumstances.
Memes and jokes, conflicts and misunderstandings, those are the inseparable companions of biased opinions. Russia is a big country, with different nationalities dwelling in it; all this creates a wide platform for cultural and behavioral stereotypes. It is weird, but when I asked my friend from the overseas he said that there may be different perceptions of Russian people, but one of them is most common: Russian people do not smile.
It would be a deceit to say that I was surprised to hear that. Let’s admit, it truly is one of the most popular (and misguided) beliefs about my fellow countrymen. Some would argue, saying Russians do smile; you just have to earn it. What can I reply to those disagreements and stereotypes? Well, read this one till the end and you will get my point of view. By that I mean an opinion from a true Russian, who has travelled a lot and studied in the international environment. Okay, cheat chat for later, let me introduce you the term RUSSIAN SMILE.
Short intro: I did not invent it; this phrase was heard by a very good Russian friend, living in Australia. You want an explanation I guess, well here it is. A straight face without any particular emotions other than a deep thinking process can easily be called a Russian Smile. We are a busy nation. Always running, always thinking, always getting in trouble, always dreaming about something. And since the most part of our day we are in a process of doing something, we try to save energy when we can! We sleep in the subway or on the bus; we listen to the audio courses of how to find Zen. Smiling, however, needs energy and work of muscles. You think it doesn’t? Have you ever tried smiling 15 minutes in a row? Well- don’t, because it will make your face hurt. And we have other stuff to do, than worry about future wrinkles and pain.
It is a common practice in other cultures to always look smiley and happy, however, it is not that common in Russia, except for the case, where you are a hospitality employee. Such positions usually require wearing a friendly expression as part of your job. Actually there is some logic behind our non-constantly smiling faces. Why would anyone smile for no reason? You have to be either happy or required to smile due to the actions you are doing. There is no particular point in walking in the street and grinning at the same time. If this does not compel you that us, Russians are not an unfriendly, but a rational nation, may be this will. There is a very old Russian saying Смех без причины-признак дурачины (Smekh bez prichin’i- pr’iznak durach’in’i) that translates as Laughter without a reason is a sing of foolishness. This may sound weird, but as a nation we are brought up on all the sayings, superstitions and old fairy tales. Also, it is in a Russian mentality to be ambitious and hard-working in order to build a successful life. According to such reality of events, if you have time to smile or laugh too much, this means you are not working hard enough. Consequently, you are not contributing to your future. And who wants to be considered fool or a lazy individual? Right, the answer is NONE.
To sum up, I have to make a final statement. Yes, we are hard-working and busy. Yes, sometimes we are believed to be moody and all covered in thorns. But as a contrary, Russians are considered one of the craziest (in terms of partying and having fun) nations, so do you really believe that when we meet with our beloved, family or friends we keep a straight face? Obviously no. We are good at multitasking and time management, so when it is time dedicated to relaxing and enjoying life, we do not trifle. We give away our smiles and positive mood to anyone who is nearby. So if you have time, go find a smiling Russian, believe me, there will be something really worth seeing and interesting happening around him!