Smile. And I don’t mean fake a smile to convince other people you’re okay. I mean smile genuinely. It occurred to me when at the end of a work motivation day when the store manager at my part time job challenged us to smile to people we pass in work and people we pass in the street. While it seemed to not bother many other people in the room since we were quite tired from a long day in a conference room and from the early start, I remember smiling to myself as he was on to a good point.
As someone living in a city where there are thousands of people, I tend to feel quite isolated and lonely at times. Cardiff is generally a friendly city, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bright and cheery place all the time. I like to take walks around the city centre a lot, but you easily blend in to the crowd and the busy and dull atmosphere swallows you. So one little habit I’ve been making a conscious effort to do is to smile more. Smile at work with my colleagues and with customers, and just smile more to strangers in the street. Not in a creepy weird way, but if I make eye contact with someone on the street as I’m walking home from work for example, I’ll give a small smile as I pass and keep walking. Nothing imposing, but still the response you get can be quite positive.
Plus, there are health benefits to smiling more. To quote lifehack.org (I’ll leave the link at the end of the post) “Neurotransmitters called endorphins are released when you smile” which are positive chemicals the body releases when we are happy, and help to reduce stress. While this may not be on the same level as when you’re smiling and laughing during an engaging conversation with your friends, just a simple smile like I described a second ago will release a small amount of these positive chemicals – so still a gain right?
If you don’t feel confident enough smiling to complete strangers in the street (I don’t always have the confidence to but I do try), then a good start is smiling to the people who serve you at the tills when you’re shopping for groceries or buying your new outfit or the new makeup you’ve been waiting so badly for. As someone who works in fashion retail, I can confidently say that smiling to your till operative who served you instead of just handing your money over and walking away with your bags will make their day a lot better. Even if you’re just that one person during that long queue that gives them a smile, there’s a good chance they’ll be telling their friends on their break about how it made their afternoon that little bit better. How do I know? Well, I’ve been there, and I have friends at work who occasionally tell me lovely stories like these.
In my opinion, you have nothing to lose from smiling more. And while I don’t always remember to do this, it’s a goal that I can work towards. So if you want to, I challenge you to smile more too. You may notice immediately or it may take some time, but you’ll notice a positive difference. This was a goal I set myself around the start of June when I gained a promotion at work and when a lot of new staff joined my work place, and my new colleagues say they perceive me as a positive and approachable person. I was still positive and approachable before, but I came across as more reserved and shy, where as now I’m someone people want to approach more and talk to.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post – it’s a bit different from what I usually write about, but a lot of topics like these often sit in my head, and they’re only so good there. So I figured from time to time I’ll write them up and if they benefit even one person, then I’m happy. To bid adieu, I’ll leave you with one more image, and instead of an old photo of me smiling, here’s one of my Mum and puppy who both manage to make me smile everyday.