Perhaps Dale Carnegie said it best:
A smile costs nothing, but creates much.
It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give.
If you’re still mulling over your New Year’s Resolutions for 2020, let me suggest this one: Smile more often.
Did you know that a smile requires fewer facial muscles than a frown? Smiling is literally, physically easier than frowning.
We all need to smile more. Some of us (myself included) don’t have very good smile muscles, so we need to really work at not looking like “grumpy cat.”
Here are just a few excellent reasons to break out that noble grin this year.
It’s good for your relationships.
Smiling is a sure-fire way to make other people feel appreciated and cared for. It’s no surprise that couples who laugh more enjoy healthier relationships.
- Smiling makes you approachable. It’s easier to strike up a conversation with someone who appears friendly.
- It’s contagious. When someone smiles at you, you smile back. We humans are primed to mirror one another’s behavior.
- It makes others happy. A friendly face puts people at ease when interacting with you.
- It builds trust. A genuine smile — the kind where your eyes crinkle up — signals honesty and integrity.
It’s good for business.
In her book Happiness at Work, leadership coach Jessica Pryce Jones talks about her study of over 3,000 people in 79 countries. Those who were happier were more energized at work and spent more time on job-related tasks than their grumpier peers.
How else can smiling bring success?
- It boosts productivity. Happy employees get more work done.
- It makes you more creative. Happy workers think of more comprehensive solutions to problems compared to those in a negative frame of mind.
- It produces better outcomes. Employees who smile more tend to see better performance reviews and faster promotions.
- It improves leadership. Whenever you ask someone to perform a task, do it with a smile. Employees are more inspired by leaders who exude a positive attitude than those who rule by fear or intimidation.
It’s good for you.
Laughter really is good medicine. Smiling releases neurotransmitters like endorphins and serotonin, which have many positive health effects.
- Those positive hormones can help with pain relief if you’re recovering from an injury or illness.
- Smiling helps you relax and cope with stressful situations.
- It lowers blood pressure and reduces your heart rate, which helps keep your ticker in great shape.
- In one study, people who smiled more when talking about a deceased loved one had an easier time managing their grief.
- Those with a stronger sense of humor have been found to be at a lower risk of dying from an infection.
Now that you know just how good smiling is for you, how can you make it a habit? Here are two simple ideas to get you started:
- Start with gratitude. Every day, take time to reflect on the blessings in your life. Write them down if you need to. When you experience a setback of some kind, focus on the lessons it has to teach you — like how precious life is.
- Communicate openness. Next time you find yourself in a waiting room, I challenge you to leave that phone in your pocket or purse. You just might discover that you smile and interact with others a little more.
What reasons can you think of to smile more in the year ahead? How would it make life better for the people you care about — as well as yourself?