Don’t you hate it when someone tells you to smile? Usually the suggestion is made when smiling is the last thing you want to do, to make them happy, not you. Despite this irritating request, smiling when you want to is a simple—yet potent—happiness strategy. It can be practiced anytime, anywhere.
Activity: Practice smiling at yourself—in the mirror, at your dog, in the shower, etc. Smiling communicates to your body that you’re in a good mood and releases spirit-lifting neurochemicals. Practice smiling at others, over Zoom, across the street, behind your mask in the grocery store (to make your eyes smile). The power of smiling is amplified when you smile at someone else, because it gives them a little mood boost and triggers mirror neurons, meaning they’ll probably smile back at you, lifting your mood a little more. Smiling is the universal sign of friendliness—when you smile at someone, they feel liked and they see you as more attractive, reliable, and likable. When you smile, see if you can tap into genuine warmth, friendliness, and happiness.
- Reduces stress
- Improves mood
- Generates positive emotions in others
- Improves relationships
If you’d like to dramatically increase your likelihood of following through on this activity, answer these questions in writing or out loud to another person.
- How and when will you do this activity?
- What might get in the way—and how will you address these obstacles?