I Smiled for a Week. This is what happened.
“Use your smile to change the world, don’t let the world change your smile”
By Donnavan Finlay, Co-Founder of Guyding Principals.
A friend of mine asked me why I smile so rarely. “Are you unhappy”, he asked? This came as a surprise to me as I always thought I smiled a lot. Truth is that I am a pretty happy person. Why would someone then tell me that I look unhappy?
This thought kept coming back to me. “Is this really true?” Can’t be. Do I really look that unhappy to the people around and how has this influenced my relationships over time? What if it were true? Maybe I do look miserable.
Then the though dawned on me that I tend to stay away from grumpy people or people who just look unhappy. When I do get in a conversation with a miserable person I always try to cut the conversation short. It is also a poor first impression in my opinion.
I started noting my feelings and expression when dealing with people. Guess what? My friend was correct. I rarely smiled enough. At work I am focused on the task at hand and dislike distractions. The way people perceive that is that I am in a bad mood. This is not my intention but that is the way it is perceived. When trying to influence people it is not my intentions that can make a defining impression but the perception of the people.
“So what can I do to fix this?” I thought to myself. How can I influence my own feelings and overall mood? Then it hit me. “Just focus on smiling as much as I can, even when I am alone.”
So this is what happened:
Day one in the morning was a bit tough. You wake up after a nigh of too little rest. I then realized it was going to be a long day with too much to do and too little time. I then remembered my idea of smiling. Looking in the mirror I started smiling to myself. I put on some music, as I got ready for the day.
Went to the gym first thing and made a point of greeting everyone with a smile. Some people kind of looked at me with a funny expression and then realized how depressed I must have looked. Most people did however greet me back with a smile. I must admit that I did feel a bit silly at first.
When I got to work I greeted my staff with smiles. Same as at the gym. Some greeted me with a weird look but most greeted me back with a smile. I kept it going as much as I could and the atmosphere was better. It was actually pretty cheerful. As the day went on my smile faded and by the end of the day I was exhausted and the last thing on my mind was a smile.
The second day was bit easier. My morning routine was the same but I felt more comfortable smiling as much as I can. I felt more energetic. By the time I got the gym I was unusually cheerful. I greeted everyone with a smile and I felt good. I did not take note of what other people’s facial expressions were as I was more focused on myself.
At work I did take note of my employees facial expressions towards me when greeted with a smile. There was definitely an improvement from the previous day. I had less to do in the office, so spent more time on the floor interacting with the staff. I was cheerful and so was the staff. More than usual. People that would normally avoid coming up to me did so with ease. I felt good leaving work.
Day three was pretty much the same but I started taking note of some drastic changes on day four.
By now the smiling during my morning routine was easy and did not feel silly anymore. By the time I got to the gym for my workout, I was all smiles. People were friendlier towards me. I met some new people and some friendships have grown from there. I also met some other business people in the community I had never met before. Just by smiling I had expanded my network.
At work things were even better. In the past I had to double-check most tasks as some individuals took short cuts. Since the workplace was now more inviting and friendlier, I have noted that the issued faced in the past was down a lot. The overall performance had increased. This couldn’t be purely from smiling, could it? I though I would not jump to conclusions just yet. Still early days.
That night I needed to go to the supermarket. Without thinking about it, I greeted people with a smile and the friendliness was returned. Usually I would dread going to a store, but this time things were better. In the past I would avoid making conversation with anyone in line. This time I joined the conversation and it was fine. Thinking about it now, I actually enjoyed it.
By day five it came more naturally. My morning routine was great. Just getting better.
The big difference was happening at work. I started enjoying it more going in. Some of my staff that had a tendency to be late was on time. I stood back a bit to oversee what was going on. People were friendlier all round. People were more supportive towards each other. This is why we were seeing better results. There was an increased atmosphere of teamwork. I did not have to check up on the staff all the time. I understand now that my attitude was affecting my employees as much as it did my personal life. Smiling really is contagious.
The weekend that followed I had some time to hang out with friends and they commented on my attitude change. I had changed that much in one week just by smiling that my friends took note.
Some comments I would like you to take from my experience. Greeting people with a smile is not asking much. Greeting someone with a smile will make you more attractive and people will be drawn to you. First impression is key.
Want to meet the cute girl at work or store. Simple. Start with a smile. Smile and be friendly. That will make her remember you. You will stand out from the crowd.
Struggling to influence people at work? Start with greeting them with a smile. Be friendly and genuine with your interest in them. This will open many doors for you.
The week I started smiling was a while ago and I wanted to keep going to ensure it was not a fluke. I firmly believe that this small change in my approach to people made a massive change in my life. Things seem easier and I am overall happier. I have no problem meeting new people. An area in my life I used to struggle with.
I have to admit that it is not easy to keep going. You have to make a conscious decision to keep going and focus on your actions. You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind.
Give it a try, you will be surprised with the results.