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Smile to change your future

by Shannon Houde

I have a sign in my office that says “Smile, It Confuses People”.

Every morning I drop the kids off at school and search desperately for eye contact from a fellow mum (note the UK spelling) but find that, in a given week, I maybe get two or three half smiles or a reluctant head nod. Then at the gym, where I see the same ladies in lycra every week at yoga or HIIT class, I find myself looking up from my mat, and again, trying to grab someone’s eyes to offer a subtle smile, to feel a bit of connection. One of my all time favorite movies, The Happy Movie, is a documentary touring the world’s diverse communities only to find that, what makes us happiest as humans, is to feel a sense of connection to others.

Image © rawpixel.com via Unsplash.

But in this culture that connection isn’t easy to make. Maybe the Brits don’t smile as much as we Americans because, as poet Spike Milligan reflects in his English Teeth poem, they have bad teeth? Or just bad weather???

There isn’t enough smiling going on in the world right now.

A random Brit woman on the train this morning smiled at me. And it made me think, we should all be smiling more! Being an American living in England for the past decade, I have had to downplay my friendliness and smile at random strangers less, so as to not “confuse people”. But after a decade of this I have realized that NO!, I should actually smile more. It is actually one of my core competencies. And it is proven to be good for your brain and wellbeing.

So some of the benefits of smiling that I’d like to add to the sunwarrior.com’s list are:

  • it’s an easy way to “give back, to make a difference” as it makes someone else feel warm inside, and it’s contagious
  • makes you feel less nervous in a job interview
  • a smiling photo on LinkedIn makes you look more inviting as someone to connect with
  • smiling sends positive energy into the air – as my communications coach used to say, “use language of abundance” and positive results will come in return – the same goes for a smile – it may even win you a job offer
  • hardwires your brain to be happier…

Tara Brach, one of my meditation coaches, actually encourages us to smile while meditating in her 25-minute guided smile meditation.

There isn’t enough smiling going on in the world right now given Brexit and Trump and climate change and the economy. But actually every day is a gift. Every moment is a gift. Even if we are in the wrong job or the wrong relationship, life is still a string of precious moments. Like Ferris Bueller said back in 1986, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

So to me, smiling is one of those small things you can do for yourself and others to give back and to improve your life, for free, any moment of any day. If you want to “make a difference”, as most of my coaching clients say they do, then this is an easy way to start, now, today.

Can you commit to giving three smiles a day for the next three weeks? And email the results?

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