Smiling Americans

Do Americans smile too much? An opinion piece at Pravda says "Americans smile all the time as if they are plugged in." That is, compared to Russians.
For some reason, a smile makes a Russian person suspicious. Many Russians think that those who smile a lot are not really healthy mentally.

American Annette Loftus, who visited the Soviet Union for the first time in 1991, said that she was culturally shocked when she returned to the USA and saw the smiling Americans around.

Many Russian tourists traveling to Thailand still feel uncomfortable about this country. Thailand is known as a country of a thousand smiles.

"No smile feature is one of the brightest traits of a Russian individual," professor Sternin believes. "In Russia, a smile is not a signal of politeness. It is not considered normal in Russia to smile to strangers, the Russians do not return a smile for a smile automatically."

"The paradox is: the Russians smile less because they are more open to others. The Russian seriousness is a habit not to conceal people's feelings and emotions. Historically, the Russians are mostly in a bad mood, but they are not hiding it," the professor believes.

But what if you genuinely feel good and want to share the happiness? Maybe that's the problem with Americans. Link -via J-Walk Blog

A fun anecdote: when McDonald's opened their first restaurant in Moscow, workers are required to smile at customers.

This caused so much alarm that there were minders stationed outside the restaurant (at the time, there was a long line to get in and order) to tell the patrons via loudspeakers that the workers are required to smile at you and that it wasn't an insult.
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My husband (a Brit) told me that he could always pick out an American tourist in London. They're be the people walking down the street with huge grins. He was usually correct in this assumption.

We've been married nearly 12 years now, and we live in the US. He's now one of the more smile-y people I know. I'm not saying American's are happier, but perhaps just a bit more comfortable expressing their happiness.
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I had a friend in Russia who was supposed to be drafted into the Russian army, but he failed the psychological exam for smiling too much. He was just a genuinely happy person, but in Russia, that was considered insane.
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Come visit our country, and we'll watch you like monkeys in a zoo if you actually ENJOY it? LOL

Truth is, Russia's entire history required skepticism and doubt, suspicion and covert activity, just to survive. No wonder that it's been internalized by the culture. Americans, who've not had to live under those sorts of regimes, have not done so.

Yes, there really are relatively happy people here. We also enjoy traveling, and are friendly for the most part.

This piece also blows up the entire previous meme of the 'ugly American', but shows animosity towards the people anyway. Doesn't matter how we act, someone is going to have a problem with it. Be grumpy, we're poor guests. Be happy, we're loons. What it really illustrates is some serious ethnocentrism on behalf of the Russian people. They might try getting out of their emotional box and see a bit of the world.
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