By Thomas Talhelm
Several years ago, I was traveling in Thailand. They call it “the land of smiles,” and that sure seemed true to me. I remember seeing a passenger on the back of a motorbike make eye contact with me and smile. I smiled back.
Two days later, I landed in Kunming, southwestern China. Thailand had gotten me into the habit of smiling at people, so as I walked in a local market, I smiled at anyone who made eye contact with me. What happened in response is what I’d call confusion, mild negativity, and sometimes a furrowed brow.