Dear Abby: When I was in middle school, I was pretty much an outcast. In the summer between eighth grade and high school, I read a Dear Abby column where you offered advice to someone who was shy like me. You recommended that the writer smile and greet people every day. You also published a booklet to help us to be more outgoing.
When I got to high school, I took your advice. Your column changed my life. During my senior year, I became involved in drama, choir and sports, and I was elected student body president.
I am now a mom with two children. I hold a master's degree and have a wide array of friends all over the world. I am a public speaker, poet and actor -- all because you wrote to someone like me and told that person how to make friends.
Abby, please repeat those words and let people know if the booklet is still available. Folks of all ages need that message of friendship and guidance. Thank you for the impact it has had on my life.
-- Renee in Washington
Dear Renee: I think I know the column you mentioned. The reply echoed advice that's in my booklet "How to Be Popular." It said: "No matter what you wear, the expression on your face is your greatest asset -- or liability. Would you want to strike up a conversation with someone who looks like he (or she) is mad at the world? Well, neither would anyone else. So, if you're wearing a perpetual frown, get rid of it. Trade it for a smile.
"I'm not suggesting you go around with a perpetual phony grin pasted on your face, but try to develop the habit of looking cheerful, pleasant and happy. It attracts."
"How to Be Popular" was written in response to many thousands of letters from readers over the years who are not naturally socially assertive, and others who have asked for guidance on where and how to meet nice people like themselves, what to say or not to say, and how to be the kind of person others will find interesting, attractive and worth knowing better, and can be ordered by sending your name and address, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.