“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight”
The power of a smile can change your day, or someone else’s day. Not the most complicated body movement to muster up, but we smile less as we become older. We should smile more, period. Here are 3 studies you gotta check out that proves the power of a smile. My favorite study shows that one smile can provide the same amount of brain stimulation of 2000 bars of chocolate! So wait, I can feel great and not fall into a sugar coma…sold.
Here’s how we work on improving our smile game and why it’s so important for both the smiler and the smilee.
The Smile Challenge
Each year at Nantucket Bike Tours, we hire two interns from Wabash College (my alma mater) to help us operate our small business. Wabash makes this all work and even helps pay the two students, in return, we take them under our wing and show them what we believe contributes to being successful in business and life.
Enter the Smile Challenge…
There are many “challenges” and goals that we give to our two interns, but one of the first is simple in theory, but difficult to execute. It’s the The Smile Challenge.
The challenge: make five people each day smile by smiling at them.
Sounds easy right? But, what if they aren’t looking at you? What if you throw out a cheesy smile? What if you aren’t in the best mood, should you fake it? These are the problems that can arise as one tries to successfully “smile bomb” five strangers.
The underlying benefit to The Smile Challenge, besides making others feel good, is increasing self awareness and awareness of those around you. When our college students arrive they are inexperienced to the high level of mental focus required to be an engaged leader. Walking down the street or into the grocery store offers so many opportunities to make someone’s day, you just have to make it your every day goal.
How to Smile When You Don’t Feel Like Smiling
“How do you give a genuine smile when you don’t feel like doing it?” I crave this question! We don’t always feel happy or in a great mood in order to smile bomb everyone, everyday. But if you want to be a leader at work, in your community, or at home then you’ll need to bring the smiles and good energy consistently. Here are tactics to help you get through the bad moods, low energy afternoons, or maybe just to up your game a little…
Fake it. Before you walk into work or home, just start smiling, even if it feels fake as hell. Your body language can control your mind and mental state, check out this Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy if you’re not convinced. The act of smiling (even if its a fakey) will trigger chemicals in your brain that will boost your mental state.
Scream. Or maybe sing loudly. If you are in your car driving to work, and feeling in a blah funk, blast your favorite tunes and bellow out. You won’t want to do this at the time, but try it. Use Adele and get it all out, or go old school with Common’s “The Light.”
Meditate. Not a method that I have tried much, but many of my friends can relax and meditate their way into a better mood (or perhaps keep them more balanced). If any of you are skeptics of meditating, try out a new app called 10% happier for a different way into improving your mindfulness.
RFF (Resting Frowny Face)
Back in my 20’s a friend was moving off the island, so we had a good bye lunch to send her off. During that lunch she said to me, “Jason, before I leave, I wanted to tell you that I think you should smile more.” I was confused and felt the defensive walls flying upwards. “I’m a pretty happy guy, I smile all the time, what are you talking about?” I replied. She then gently dropped the truth on me. “You might feel like you are smiling but you walk down the street with a serious, concentrated look on your face, which does not look happy. It looks kinda angry.” WHAT??? I was surprised that my exterior state did not match my internal feelings.
No one had ever told me this? I truly felt content with my life at the time and thought I exhibited a RHF (resting happy face). As I processed this new reality, she went and provided the evidence I needed to confirm everything she was saying. “Look between your eyes, you have a tan lines where your skin scrunches up from the constant frown.” Holy shit, I ran to the nearest mirror and there they were.
“A smile confuses an approaching frown“
From that day on, I have worked to walk into a room or drive down the road with a smile on face. Admittedly, I do not always succeed in this endeavor. But, I am now aware of my RFF and work on it daily. When I do work on bringing the smile game, I always feel better during and after.
Above is what I must have looked like when I first was told I had RFF!
Here’s Your Challenge
Set a goal for yourself, try to smile bomb two people each morning. Or maybe you need to up it to five per day? Rock the smile, make someone’s day, and receive the benefits of 2,000 bars of chocolate.