When I was fourteen years old there was no mortar shell in the continental United States that could get past my steel reinforced infatuation for a special girl in my history class. She was no average chick. To me she was a goddess, a princess, a queen.
During lecture it was my life mission to clock in as many hours as I could taking peeks at her using the powers of peripheral vision. I would pretend to write notes while I struggled to make out as many words as I could hear her speak from across the room.
This crush lasted for some time, as they do in high school, but finally the urge to confess my teenage obsession to her was too powerful to suppress.
I decided to break my stagnancy once and for all.
I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t meticulously calculate the strategy that I would execute in order to swoon her that warm spring afternoon. Everything was planned. My tactics were rooted in Guerrilla warfare. Do or die. Feast or famine. I quoted Sun Tzu in my sleep.
It all happened so fast. The approach, the rejection, the reflection. And it had little to do with what I said, but more so how I presented myself when I spoke. You see my failure that day was consistent with smile psychology.
A smile is the only difference between exuding confidence or looking like an axe-murderer.
In the case of my puppy love story, I did not seem too friendly. What I said wasn’t the problem as much as how I said it. Humans are keen on sensing body language and tonality even more so than speech. Back in high school I didn’t realize how easy it really is to stay positive and look approachable at will.
Had I met with a communication coach before this incident I may have changed a few things. What I said wasn’t horrific but the look I gave her when I spoke revealed a bundle of nerves. This example is the tip of the iceberg for a quarter century of mistakes that make me the smiling & enthusiastic man I am today.
Happy faces are psychologically proven to make a difference in your mood and the mood of those around you. Sure, I may slack in the smiles department now and then but I do make a conscious effort to do smile checks when walking into a new room.
Because I’m a geek I needed an answer to my problem with getting rejected in high school and can’t help but ask, “What is the science behind a smile?” And I sought out the answer.
The Duchenne or crinkly-eyed smile is distinct and genuine. Photo protected under Creative Commons Licence.
It goes without saying that researching smiles is a bit, unusual, but it’s always made me curious to know what it is about certain people who causes them to charm me when they’re around with the kind of charisma that leaves miles of smiles in their wake.
What I found out is that they call a genuine smile the Duchenne smile.
It’s the one that has the unmistakable wrinkles at the sides of the eyes with the mouth broadly upturned. This smile was from my own observations, the one that people felt most at ease and comfortable around.
Try This: Put on a huge and goofy smile right now. If you are near a mirror, take a look and see how you’re doing. Now hold it there for 15 seconds. Count. 1…2…3… Keep going. I want you to think about a few things that happened to you throughout the course of your day so far. How about something that upset you? Run through that upsetting scenario and watch the stress fall away. Because of the chemicals released, if you perform this exercise properly, you will feel better no matter what. Your body is fooled into producing more happy juices.
Research in psychology suggests that smiles are powerful in releasing serotonin that helps support our vitality.
- Smiles make other people attracted to you.
- Smiles encourage optimistic behavior.
- Smiles make you and other people very happy.
- Smiles cause others to trust you.
- Smiles can rescue us from social slip-ups.
Right now I’m staring at a stack of books on my bookshelf that each have a chapter in them about smiling. That’s how important smiling really is.
Take the lesson I learned in high school as an example: It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to land a job with a new employer, make a new friend, create a business connection, feel good or impress a crush, a smile is your best kept secret weapon against the world.
Don’t underestimate a great smile. Smiles are quick and easy mini-therapy sessions that conquer negativity. Positivity is a choice and it’s yours to make with a broad, wrinkly eyed smile.