The Smile Treatment
To some of us, smiling comes naturally. Those lucky individuals will become a ray of sunshine in the lives of anyone they meet. They’ll smile at friends and strangers. They may even smile without noticing it! If you are one of those people, you’ll know all about the power of your smile. How often do people compliment you on how cheery you look? You may not notice it, but people are also more likely to approach you. Who would you pick; the person who’s smiling to themselves, or the person who’s looking away? Think about how often people ask for directions, or approach you for a friendly chat. Chances are, it happens quite often.
Image from Pixabay
But, the world is not made of smiling people. For many of us, smiling is not a natural pursuit. Our mouths turn down without our meaning them to. We often frown without noticing. Not having a smiley resting face can make life hard. People assume you’re aloof, or rude. And, they respond in kind. You may try to convince people it’s your natural disposition, but who’s going to believe you? Besides, you can’t apologize to everyone you accidentally offend. As such, it’s much harder for a non-smiley person to make friends or connections with people when they try.
For the most part, it’s obvious why smiling makes us more likable. Our whole face lights up. We appear warmer and more open. Plus, a smile is unlikely to offend anyone. Well, unless they have issues of their own going on, but you don’t need to worry about that. And, there are scientific reasons people respond to smiles, too. Scientist Andrew Newberg said the smile is “the symbol that was rated with the highest positive emotional content.” As well as its effect on other people, smiling has positive implications for you. Smiling has more of an effective on our brain’s reward mechanism than even chocolate does! The fact that smiling makes us feel positive and more joyful can only help us appear that way to the outside world.
So, it makes sense that the naturally unsmiling among us want to make ourselves more smiley. But what steps can we take to achieve the goal? The first thing worth considering is whether there’s an underlying reason you don’t smile more. It might well be that it isn’t how your face falls. Or, you may unconsciously stop yourself. Why would anyone do that? There are a lot of reasons! Insecurity about the way your teeth look could be one. If that’s the case, it’s time to get your gnashers sorted. You deserve to smile! If wonky teeth are the problem, research info about braces to see if they’re for you. Or, perhaps you need them whitened! Book a visit to the dentist and see what they can do for you. There may be some expense, but it’s money worth spending. Be patient and know that your smile is waiting at the other end!
Another reason people may avoid smiling is shyness. We’ve already discussed the way smiling can attract people. Attention is the last thing a shy person wants. As such, they may have gotten into the habit of deflection interaction. But, it’s a vicious cycle. It may be that you’re shy, but want to reach out. When you do, people act in a hostile way because of how they perceive you. So, back into your shell you go! If this is the case, there’s no denying that learning to smile may be a challenge. You’re going to have to step outside of your comfort zone. It may be life-changing, but it won’t be easy.
And, then there are those of us with no better reason for not smiling than downturned mouths! People find it hard to understand, but naturally smiley people don’t put effort into smiling, it just happens. Yet, if it’s not natural, you put in constant effort! Who can keep a smile going all day? There are going to be times when you’re distracted and forget. There are also going to be times when you don’t have the energy.
Whatever your reason for not smiling, you can learn to change. Like any behavior, smiling can be taught. And, the good news is, the more you do it, the more you’ll want to do it. The positive benefits will be enough to keep you at it! One of the main things you need to practice is patience. Whether you’ve taught yourself not to smile, or your face doesn’t fall that way, you need to retrain your brain. The good news is, this is a fantastic exercise in mindfulness. You’ll need to start living in the moment while you smile-train your brain.
To ease your way into your journey, make sure not to set your sights too high. You don’t have to smile ALL the time straight away. In fact, you don’t have to smile all the time at all. Try smiling when people approach you, or when you’re having a conversation. You may well lose focus at some points and let your drop face, but bring your mind back and start to smile again. This stage will take as long as it takes. All you can do is stay present and put the effort in. You may notice that people start reacting differently towards you straight away. Use this as inspiration to keep up the effort!
Another fantastic way to train yourself is to observe smiley people. Think of who, in your friendship group, would be the best example. You don’t have to come right out and ask them how they do it. Chances are, they wouldn’t know what to tell you! Instead, arrange to meet for coffee and take note of when they smile. If you haven’t paid attention before, you may not even know when you should smile! Watching them, you’ll be able to judge when is appropriate. Smiling at the wrong times could come across as creepy, which is not the look you’re aiming for!