They say a smile is a human’s most powerful gesture. Seriously, research shows that if you smile, your mood actually improves. When you activate this specific set of muscles in the face that work to create a smile, you are signaling the emotional centers of the brain that tell you how happy you are at that moment in time. So, why don’t we take the time to smile more often?
For me, I get so caught up in day-to-day chores and tasks that I forget to take a moment to look at the “big picture” and just “be” in the moment. I’ll spend hours focusing on an article or project and, the next thing I know, 3 hours have gone by, and I’ve just spent that time staring at a screen with a bored expression on my face. Perhaps if I had taken a moment to make a conscious effort to smile, I would have been more productive.
Next time you’re at work, or even running an ordinary errand like grocery shopping, try to remember the tips below. I promise, one of these is guaranteed to make you smile:
Tell a joke.
Laughing is contagious, so go ahead and abuse that proven fact. Use Google to find a really funny joke, share it with a co-worker or friend, and feed off of their joy. Think about it: have you ever told a joke with a serious face? Unless you’re Serious Cat, you probably won’t be able to NOT laugh while sharing that hilarious joke you found on Google with your best work bud.
Do a good deed.
Cliché, I know. But how can you not smile after seeing the reaction of someone you just performed a kind gesture for?
Tell someone how much you care about them.
For this one, I’m not talking about telling your significant other, or even your immediate family that you care about them. Go out of your way to send a quick text or video message to that grandparent you rarely call, or even your kid cousin. If they’re anything like my relatives, they’ll most likely respond with something corny and ridiculous that will bring a big goofy smile to your face, similar to the smile you used to make as a kid after realizing your mom was pulling into the McDonald’s drive-through.
Think about your best friend.
Remember that time when you and your bestie could not stop giggling about something? Think back on that moment, and try to relive that distant catalog in your memory. Warning: this may cause an actual LOL moment. Make sure you’re not in a public setting that is super quiet, like on a bus or in an open-space working environment. You’ll definitely benefit from the loud laughter by smiling uncontrollably, but people might look at you like you’re an insane person.
Take time to breathe and take in your surroundings.
Next time you’re annoyed by something, take a moment to do a few breathing exercises and look around at everything around you. A long, deep breath increases the mood enhancing power of smiling. Take a second to breathe and notice the beautiful weather outside, or the detail in a piece of artwork nearby.
Think about fluffy animals doing super cute things.
Or, even better, look at images of fluffy animals doing super cute things. How can you NOT smile after going through this gallery of cute animal photos. It IS called The Happiness Generator after all.
Envision your Happy Place.
Where do you find yourself smiling the most? It doesn’t have to be on a private beach resort where you’ve shared margaritas with a friend; it can be your living room or perhaps your favorite local bar. Thinking about a place that you associate with good times will make you smile. But yes, a place that involves a good beer or whiskey sour doesn’t hurt.
Find a way to laugh at yourself.
Are you stressed about a way you handled yourself around a new boss? Try and look past the awkward situation and choose to laugh at yourself instead. Trust me, it will make you feel a million times better about that awkward hand gesture you made, or lame advice you shared earlier that day.
So the next time you find yourself having not smiled for a good chunk of time, try and refer to this list of happy tips. By taking the time and making the effort to try and put a smile on that straight face of yours, you’re hacking your way to happiness, one facial muscle at a time.