Episode #8 of the course Small habits that yield big results by Joe Bennett
All of these lessons are simple, but this one is so simple, so basic, that I doubted myself when thinking of including it. But the goal here is to share small things that can make huge impacts in your life, and this is one of them.
That’s it. Smiling makes everything better. Even the shittiest, most painful experiences are a little bit better when you smile.
In my life
I don’t recall when I stumbled upon this, but I believe it was at the end of 2015 sometime. When I heard about the benefits of smiling, it caused some introspection and self-observance.
I just naturally love to think. And one of the physical signs of thinking deeply is a bit of a frown (frowning tends to increase vigilant thought and be sign of it).
I noticed that I just didn’t smile very much. I also heard from others that they thought I was mad a lot or didn’t like them or was in a bad mood. Which was only sometimes true. :)
However, I’m a generally happy person—I’m an optimist, dammit.
So I decided to smile more. Whenever I’m feeling a little down or as I’m trying to build this habit, I smile. I try to smile at my wife and my kids especially. And I do notice a significant effect.
My days do go better and my mood is lighter when I choose to live with a smile.
How you do it
The benefit to you
It’s easy to forget to smile as an adult. We get caught up in the minutia of finances, world and national politics, work—all the seriousness. We forget about this tool we have to make us and those around us feel better.
You’ll feel better when you smile. You’ll notice that the day is brighter and the things you do and the places you go are more vibrant. You’ll find that others are attracted to you. You’ll make others feel at ease, and everywhere you go, you’ll be welcomed.
Smiling is a contagious act. Others around you will be influenced to smile, which will then ripple outward to the people those people meet. If we consistently do this enough, I like to imagine that the whole world can be inspired to smile just by you and me taking the initiative to put on a smile.
Smiling is a psychosomatic activity. When you do it, the mood that typically precedes it then follows. We naturally smile when we’re happy or finding joy. And then when we choose to smile, those same feelings follow. Right now I’m smiling, and yep, it feels good!
Scientists have claimed, “Smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match.”
It releases positive chemicals in our brains that tell us things are OK at this moment. It’s a time of peace and joy.
It’s also a piece of body language that tells others around you you’re not a threat, nor are you threatened by them. We have so much posturing, threatening, and positioning that’s so unhelpful. If we could all be self-confident while not demeaning those around us, we’d accomplish tons more together as a society.
What you’ll learn tomorrow: The 10-minute stretch
“Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely
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