“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” -Thich Nhat Hanh
Have you ever been walking down the street and made eye contact with a stranger, only to have them make an awkward face or quickly look away? It is only natural to start wondering what that person’s deal is. “Either this guy is a jerk or there is something on my face?” In all likelihood, it was neither of those things, and you are left feeling annoyed or awkward for no reason.
What if instead, when you made eye contact with that person, you initiated a genuine smile before they could react? Two amazing things will happen:
1) They will smile back. When you smile at a person, that person will automatically smile back because smiling is contagious. Neuroscientists have recently discovered a new class of cells called mirror neurons. These neurons fire both when you act and when you observe the same action performed by another. Therefore, when you smile, the other person won’t be able to stop themselves from smiling back.
2) You will feel great. Studies have found that when you smile it can lift your mood. This is the exact opposite of what you normally think happens when you smile. Usually, you have a good feeling and then a smile will follow. It turns out that it is reversed. Your body will sense the outward expression and positive feelings will follow. Smiling makes you happier.
You Smile –> Mirror Neurons Fire —> They Smile = Both Feel Happier
The other person will most likely not know what is going on so they will leave the interaction thinking “Dang!!! I look good today.” In two seconds you can make two people happy. Don’t underestimate the power of a simple smile.
Challenge: Smile at 2 strangers today. How do they react? How do you feel after?
Learn more about the Hidden Power of Smiling in this short TED talk by Ron Gutman: Hidden Power of Smiling