Smiling is my favourite and I love any opportunity to place a smile on someone else's face as well. A smile is infectious and it can instantly uplift anyones spirit! It's a simple gesture, shows compassion, and regardless of your busy schedule or wallet it doesn't cost anything or ask for more than a moment of your time.
When life has you feeling down, the worst thing to do is obsess or overanalyze any situation to the point of falling down a deep and dark rabbit hole. The best thing to do is take control as much as you can. While it's easier said than done, or some things are simply out of your control, I still remind myself to smile (fake it until you make it). By choosing to smile you're choosing to be optimistic, and by choosing to be optimistic you'll instantly feel a shift both internally and externally. Your heart and soul will be filled with hope while those around you will smile with you - naturally, lifting both of your spirits!
So, why should we smile? Honestly? Not only because it's the most wonderful time of the year when smiling is at its all time high as friends and families gather to drink copious amounts of wine and fill rooms with laughter, but because there are signs telling us we should be smiling every single day and show gratitude. Not just during the holidays or when we've received good news, but daily because of these simple five reasons:
1. It's contagious: Have you ever heard someone say that a smile can be infectious? Well, we all know that neurons transmit information throughout the body, responsible for communicating information in chemical and electrical forms. Mirror neurons are neurons in the brain that turn on when we act and when we observe the same act done by another, essentialy "mirroring" the behaviour of another person as if we were doing it ourselves. So, when someone crosses your path and smiles (or when you're in a serious conversation and you think they're smiling so you smile...making it for an even more award discussion) you are causing their mirror neurons to activate, causing them to smile right back at you! Once they find themselves smiling they may then find that their mood has lightened and could ultimately cause a domino affect in their day for the better.
2. Breaks down walls: You instantly appear more approachable. A smile can change how a stranger views you and whether or not they wish to interact with you. Women, especially, are more responsive to a smile. Ahem, gentleman...smile more often. But honestly, there is a time and a place to be serious and that isn't when you're walking to work, running errands, or in a social setting. Train your brain to have a resting happy face and you'll find that when seeking help, at the cash register, or even smiling when you're on the phone (yes, it still transmits through the phone), you'll find your interactions to be more pleasant and may even create connections that you'd otherwise had missed! And we all know how important those can be.
3. Reduces stress: There is an old phrase "grin and bear it" that is essentially my version of fake it until you make it when it comes to emotions. It's suggesting that not only does your smile show a sign of happiness and that life isn't as crazy as it may be, but that also by throwing on a smile you're using it as a coping mechanism to deal with the stress and pain of any one situation. A smile can help ease a bit of pain in your heart and also help create an energy that reduces your level of stress. Think of it as a mental workout where the act of smiling helps to reprogram the brain to think positively rather than negatively!
4. Increases productivity: A smile can do that? Yes, yes it can. Have you ever sat in a meeting or approached your team during month end with a sour face and noticed they then became quiet and slow to work? That's because your facial expression sets the mood so by smiling you're boosting their energy and setting the foundation for a productive day. When you're in a good mood and feel that you're in a happy environment, don't you get more done? What if you get to the office and everyone is short with you, long-faced, and in no mood to be helpful...would you be just as inclined to work hard? Unlikely. So, manager or not, set the mood and smile. You'll have a more productive day and those 9 hours spent in the office will go by quicker and more pleasantly.
5. It's free: Money can't buy happiness...well, it can buy short term boosts of excitement or love. But a smile...well....that stuff is good as gold and FREE! I throw smiles in the air like I've won the lottery. Don't want one? Sorry, they're free and I'm coming at you with a mood boosting dose of smiles. Seriously, stranger or friend, there is no cost associated with giving someone a smile. The benefits of a smile are endless and you should be reminding yourself to smile on a daily basis. Not just for yourself, but for others as well. Karma!
There have been times when I'm in a terrible mood and it's written all over my face. Rather than sitting in my own self-pity and brewing up drama for what likely is something silly, I've opened the gates to other's wondering what has me looking as though I've just poured soured milk into my coffee. So, you can look at smiling as the chicken or the egg scenario. Which one came first. Am I smiling because I'm happy or am I happy because I'm smiling. Regardless of what we think, I like to think I always have a choice and my choice is to smile versus my mood being predetermined by external factors. So I choose to smile because true happiness comes from within.
Photos: Of course, the amazing + supportive other half.