The Wonder of a Smile

4 of 45 Moments of Wonder

Have you ever noticed that when you walk in a room and you are met with a smile that you just feel better, more included and cared for, even when the person smiling at you is a stranger?

Did you know there is science behind why smiling is contagious? It’s true. When we smile, our brains are triggered to experience happiness. And when we feel happy, our brains trigger our bodies to smile. And guess what? It works on other people too. When we smile at someone they feel better and they smile. And when we see them smile, we feel better and we smile more. Both of us have sent and received the message, “you matter.”

So when Mother Theresa called for us to meet each other with a smile, perhaps she was calling for a world-wide emotional revolution.

Think about it…have you ever felt worse when someone has smiled at you? Has a smiling baby ever made you angry? Not likely. We generally do feel happier when we encounter a smiling face. On the other hand, I have walked into meetings or classrooms or interviews where nobody smiles. Instantly, my thoughts go to, “I don’t belong here.” Our brains are wired to detect signals of danger and being on the outside or not being liked are signals our brains pick up on and react to with protective measures. We freeze up, we get sweaty and we can’t remember what we planned to say. Or we rush through whatever we are doing so we can get out of there as quickly as possible. When I am interviewing people, I always try to smile and make them feel welcome. I want to meet them at their best, and I know I will get their best if they are feeling safe and included in a conversation. When their body language is screaming to get out of there or they freeze up, I know it is time to adjust my body language, including my smile.

We know that smiling is a signal to someone that they belong in the group – even if the group is just the two of us. Belonging to a group is a biological necessity for humans. When we belong, we feel safe. And when we have a sense of safety, we are more positive, more productive, happier and healthier. It’s backed by science!

So today, I wonder if we can start a smiling revolution and bring more happiness to the world. Start with your family…smile at them when you see them. They will know you’re happy to see them and they will then show more love toward you and each other. Maybe we can combat the common cold with a little smiling? Okay, maybe not but at least we will feel better knowing we aren’t alone with our germs.

Then move it into your workplace or your friend group. What would happen if you smiled at everyone you met today? Your boss? That kid who just can’t stop that annoying behaviour? The customer who asks you the same question every single day? The pharmacist who doesn’t have your prescription filled on time…again. That’s the kind of experiment I would like to try. I am curious to know if you try it what happens.

More joy, more happiness, more love, more peace…all from a single smile? I think it can be done. So as you go through your day today, know this…I just smiled at you. Go ahead…pass it on!

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