The Difference A Smile Can Make

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A smile makes people seem so much more confident, beautiful and approachable. Why doesn’t everyone smile then? Just because you don’t feel it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Studies have shown that smiling changes your mood. You may be feeling negative and think a smile will only come when your thoughts are positive, but it actually works the other way round too. Put a smile on your dial and your thoughts will change.

Now since I’ve written this post, it clearly means I’m aware of the power and payoff of the smile. I’m not used to the idea of behaviour changing the mind, but I know it’s true. I’ve not only read about it but I’ve experienced it for myself, not only when I smile, but when others smile. Some people can look downright scary when they’re not smiling and you just want to duck under a table when they walk past. But when they smile, their whole face lights up with warmth and it makes you want to be around them so you can bask in the glow of their smile. Because you can just tell by their smile, that at this moment, they are full of something you want – the beauty, joy, and peace in their own skin the smile reveals. And in those moments when I smile like they do, I feel like I have the same beauty, joy, and peace in my own skin too.

Sometimes I look at people who seem so unhappy all the time. I can sense their lack of confidence and their thoughts that people are judging them. I picture a smile on their face and I can just see people flocking to them because they’ve got something they want. People don’t tend to gravitate towards unhappy people; but all the unhappy person wants is for people to accept them and to connect with them. But that’s never going to happen if they have a negative outlook with an unapproachable frown on their face all the time—the frown that says, “I want you to like me but if I let you see me, I fear you won’t like me so I’m going to keep you away.” Then they wonder why no-one comes near them.

I want to tell them: Smile.

When you smile, people think you have something to offer and they won’t care what you look like, or what job you have or what past you’ve had. All these things you think people notice and will judge you by, won’t even be given a second thought, because they don’t matter. It’s only when you make them a big deal and draw attention to these things that others will see them as the barrier you put up. You may think it’s these things that stop people from connecting with you, but it’s actually your perspective about them and the resulting demeanour you have that makes you seem unapproachable. If they aren’t an issue for you, then they don’t become (or never were issues in the first place) for other people. But if you’re already expecting people not to like you before you meet them, you can make it hard to give people the chance to like you because you’ve already shut them out.

You got to give people more credit. See all those thoughts you have are reflected in the way you present yourself. Give people the chance to see you. Give them a chance to like you. No matter who you are, people are more likely to give you a chance if you give them a chance. And sometimes all a person needs to know they’ve been given a chance is a smile.

So you don’t have to have it all together, you don’t have to look the way everyone else does and you don’t have to be like everyone else for people to accept you. If you smile, people won’t care and they’ll want to know you. Because you know what I realized: A smile isn’t really about the person smiling, it’s about the people who receives the smile. As much as a smile can be for our own good and our own mood, a smile always gives something to others. There is a selflessness in smiling.

Sometimes we don’t smile, because we can’t be bothered. Because we’re too caught up in our own world and don’t feel we have anything to offer. But we all have something to offer, whether we feel like it or not. Believe it, and smile because it’s one gift we can all give to each other.

And just because I love TED Talks, here’s a video about how behaviour can change our thoughts.

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4 responses »

  1. That’s so true about smiling! I actually tried this “experiment”. While walking about all last year, whenever I walked by someone, I would look them in the eye and smile. More than not, people would smile back and I often wondered how much of a difference that might have made, if any. Even the ones whose face wore an expression of grimness, I would smile most brightly at, they too would smile back and the grimness would disappear for a moment. It changed the whole look of their face. I wonder if they ever paid it forward and smiled to some other stranger as they passed by. This is a form of connection.

    • It’s so true. I used to think it was all about the person smiling, though. Like it was about our thoughts and our mood when really, the reason it’s so effective is because it’s about the other person. They don’t smile back because we’re so special, but we’ve made them feel special. It’s almost like a responsibility to smile at people when we can when it’s so uplifting for people.

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