Think of how much a smile can do. When I approach a service counter, I smile at the people behind the counter as well as the other people waiting. I value the customer service I get when the busy employee looks up, smiles back and says, "Be with you in a minute." It helps me wait patiently, even if it's a long wait. If the employee looks up, doesn't acknowledge me and keeps working as though I don't exist, I find I don't feel that same way about the upcoming business transaction. I wonder if he is just busy or if he doesn't like what he's doing and isn't very enthused about helping the next customer.
Fast forward to walking in the door at home. Do you greet your spouse with a smile on your face no matter what the day has been like? Do you say "Hello!" and connect with a hug or a kiss? Or do you come in the door with a frown and pass it on? No matter what kind of day our spouse is having, we can make a difference with just our attitudes with first contact.
When I walk in the door, I remember how anxious I was to see Dennis when we were dating. Here was the one person who loved me and chose to spend time with me. I definitely opened the door when he knocked and greeted him with all the smile wattage I possessed. Fast forward to now. He's right here waiting for me. I need for him to know how much I appreciate that he's here and loves me. I should smile with everything I've got!
I turned to a humorologist to find out more about the scientific effects of smiles. Gil Greengross, Ph.D. is a humorologist, and her April 18th blog for Psychology Today talks about two types of smiles. The Duchenne smile involves the muscles around the eyes and is the full wattage smile. In contrast the non-Duchenne smile is the "fake" smile where the smile involves only the mouth and doesn't reach the eyes.
1) Try an "eyes only" smile: Stand in front of a mirror and try smiling with just your eyes so that the muscles around the eyes form little crinkles and your mouth stays neutral. How does it feel when you try to smile with just your eyes? Can you keep your mouth uninvolved?
2) Now try a "mouth only" smile: Keep your eyes neutral and smile with just your mouth. How does this smile feel?
3) This time give your full Duchenne smile with eye muscles and mouth involved. Feel how much your eyes crinkle and how your cheeks feel.
Try looking at smiles the rest of the day and see what intensity comes your way. Be a beacon of intensity and crank up your smile to brighten the day for those around you. Enjoy what comes back to you. Give yourself and those around you a face lift today!