Anne Kelly, founder and president of Junonia.com, specializing in active and casual plus size clothing.
Do you like it when people smile at you? Most often the answer is yes, because it feels really nice to be noticed and appreciated with a genuine smile. But the real power of a smile is the one you give.
You’ve probably heard all the good things smiling and laughing can do for you: Releasing those positive chemicals in your body, relaxing your body, putting yourself into a more creative mind frame. And those are all true.
But the interesting thing is that you get those benefits even when you fake a smile! Try it! Right now, while you are reading this, just slap a fake, sloppy and silly smile on your face. Turn up the corners of your mouth, open up your lips and make a toothy smile. Notice what is happening to you. You are probably sitting up straighter because it is hard to slouch and smile at the same time. You are probably looking out and around, because is it hard to smile with your eyes closed, and you are probably getting a little antsy sitting in your chair, because it is hard to sit still when you are smiling! And although you might not be able to tell, your blood pressure probably just dropped a couple of points.
And that was with a FAKE smile. Think what will happen to you when you are REALLY smiling.
I’ve heard is said that children laugh about 40 times every hour. Adults, well maybe 4-5 times? Why is that? Why did we stop smiling and laughing? An adult who always seems to be smiling is the Dalai Lama. Now there’s a guy who would have good reason to never smile, a refugee who had to escape his homeland to survive, leader to a his far flung people. Yet, there he is, finding as much happiness in each moment as he can, and sharing it with everyone through his smile. He has a child’s impish quality, and yet is among the most serious of people.
Research seems to be pointing to social connection as a factor in living a long and happy life. When we are really connecting with others, we are smiling! The more smiling the more social connection. Who knows what is the beginning of that virtuous circle!
You can do your own social research. Watch what happens when you smile. Try it on the bus, in the elevator (OK they might think you’re a little off), at the next sour meeting you have to go to. Fake it if you need to, and watch what happens. When someone smiles at you, it is really hard not to smile back. And now you have put that person in a better frame of mind. Gosh, where could that go? And how fun is this for you! Not only are you getting the biological benefits of smiling, but now you can enjoy watching people be people as you pay it forward with a smile!