“A Smile is the Universal Language of Kindness.” – William Arthur Ward
When you smile at someone, they are biologically compelled to smile back at you. “A mirror neuron is a neuron which fires both when an animal performs an action and when the animal observes the same action performed by another (especially conspecific) [of the same species] animal.
The neuron “mirrors” the behavior of another animal, as though the observer were itself performing the action.” (1) When we smile at someone, it’s human nature to smile back. We are wired to reciprocate. Smiling at someone spreads kindness and love.
Considering the global pandemic, smiling through a mask may seem pointless but I promise you that it is not.
Remember to smile with your eyes. Anyone can form an insincere smile with their mouth. It is felt when the person smiling is forcing it, or faking it.
A genuine heartfelt smile can be seen in the eyes. Connect to your fellow humans with this simple gesture. Sending a smile is free and takes no time at all as you go about your daily activities.
Depression and substance abuse have skyrocketed since covid. With so many people feeling isolated and alone a smile can improve the lives of those around you. Your smile is planting the seed of kindness and kindness is contagious. Kindness is cumulative.
BONUS: Guess what! Not only does your smile boost the mood of others, but it also benefits YOU. First, your brain releases feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin, elevating your mood (2). Smiling activates happiness in turn strengthening your immune system. Right now, you can help heal the world with your smile.
Not sure who to smile at? Even if you’re not getting out and about these days, there are plenty of people who can benefit from your smile.
- Mailman, mail lady, mail person
- Amazon, FedEx, or UPS delivery driver
- Uber eats or Favor delivery driver
- Your boss, co-workers or client on Zoom
- Family and friends when you FaceTime
- Instagram, Facebook & social media
- Grocery Store Clerk and bagger
- Your pet
- Your spouse, children, household
- School teachers
- The barista at your favorite coffee shop
- The vet/vet tech who comes to your car
- Doctor’s office staff
- Someone at the park
- Your neighbor
- Your reflection
TODAY’S PRACTICE: KEEP TRACK
Who did you smile at today? If you know their name, write it down. If you don’t know them but it’s a regular person in your life like the mailman or mail lady write it down.
At the end of the week, take inventory of who you smiled at. Was it the same people? If it was, try to find someone new to share a smile with next week.
You can also write down if they smiled back at you.If they did or did not, how did it make you feel?Are you able to recognize your reaction?Step back, separate from it, see the emotion for what it is.Can you smile at that reaction?
The goal is to smile as often as possible to help get you in a genuine feel-good place. The better you feel, the more you emanate your happiness, the greater your satisfaction with life.
PRACTICE PART 2:
A fun game is to smile at a perfect stranger without any expectation of reciprocation.
The prize is when you see them processing whether or not they know you, how they know you, and why they don’t recognize you.
Life is a game. It’s fun! We get to design our days. Choose what you want in your life. Spread the fun! In the words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
References:(1) “Mirror Neuron.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, http://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/mirror_neuron.htm#:~:text=A%20mirror%20neuron%20is%20a,were%20itself%20performing%20the%20action.(2) Spector, Nicole. “Smiling Can Trick Your Brain into Happiness – and Boost Your Health.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 10 Jan. 2018, http://www.nbcnews.com/better/health /smiling-can-trick-your-brain-happinessboost- your-health-ncna822591.