You probably already do this. You probably are doing to think “Duh!”
When I was young, I kept my facial expression in what I would consider neutral. I didn’t really use my face to communicate emotion. Little did I know, it was communicating something: dourness.
As a kid and even into my teenage years, I was kind of off in my own little world a lot of the time.
So I’d go on these retreats through SES and I wasn’t really connecting with people there. I had girls in my class who were around the same age as me, mostly a little bit older. There were so few of us in Boston, but when we got together with NY it was a real community.
I wanted the NY girls to like me. I wanted to be friends and engage with all the other young women my age. But I never knew how to do it.
One day a girl I admired approached me and suggested that I should try smiling more often.
Such a revelation!
Her reaching out to me changed my life. I started practicing. I practiced looking people in the eye and smiling. I had always thought that you smile when you have a reason to smile and you’d look silly smiling for no reason at all. I thought my dour expression was a good neutral default.
Now I’ve changed my mind on that completely. I think why not smile as a default and need a reason to be frowning?
For me this was great. But lately I’ve been hearing a lot of women my age saying that the advice girls get to “just smile” or “smile more” is a negative thing. So your milage may vary. I don’t give this advice just to girls, I think it’s just as valid for boys. And I don’t mean to tell girls when they’re unhappy that they should just pretend like everything is okay. I never want to silence children and make them think that they can’t approach an adult with a problem that they are having and just hear “lighten up” and “smile more.”
But if everything actually is great? I recommend smiling.
I think it makes the world a happier place and helps people connect more. When I smile at a stranger and they smile back, it brings peace and joy to me and I think it does for them too. It makes the whole world feel like a friendly place.
I’ve heard it said that sometimes you can even change your state of mind with your facial expression. If you smile when you’re happy, then eventually perhaps when you smile then you become happy. Worth a try, right?