Smiling is good for you on so many different levels. Smiling has been found to be linked to living longer, reduced stress and increased marriage satisfaction among other things. But should we go round smiling at people more?
It turns out there is a difference between a forced smile and a real one. And people are generally pretty good at identifying the difference. So if you want to have a positive impact on someone else, then the smile needs to be genuine. But on a personal level there is research to suggest that the act of smiling can lead to the positive emotions afterwards.
Smiling is contagious. It is hard to resist a smile and this is apparently because one of the ways we tell whether someone’s smile is genuine is by mimicking it. Therefore we may find ourselves smiling when someone else does without even wanting to.
Smiling can break down barriers, improve social connections and make you more likable. All in all, smiling is good for you and good for others. But are there times when we should not smile at strangers?
I am sure there are lots of examples where smiling at strangers could be inappropriate or taken the wrong way. Most people have the ability to make good judgements about what is appropriate in a social situation, so taking a challenge to smile at every stranger for a whole day automatically disregards your normal judgement. This could of course then lead to negative reactions or consequences from smiling.
Therefore my challenge to you is to Smile First.
What I mean by this is too often the moment is missed and you have walked on by. You could have looked up at the checkout when they handed you your change and given them a genuine smile, or smiled at your boss in the corridor, not because you want something but because they are another human being and your paths are crossing.
Whether it is a stranger or someone you know, be the first to smile. Smile and you may well be rewarded with one in return. It feels good to smile and we can make other people feel good too. All you have to do is to feel some small compassion towards the other person and allow the smile to break free!
Enjoy smiling! :-)
Clare Martin is a the founder of the Positive Teacher Network who specialises in helping teachers to find the ultimate Work Life Balance and supports them with many of the difficulties teachers face today.
The Positive Teacher Network provides practical tips and strategies to busy, tired teachers to help them improve their lives allowing them to focus on being great teachers.