I sent something out on Instagram recently—a photo collage of the smiling faces of friends—with the following comment: “Smile at your customers, Smile at your employees, Smile at your vendors, Smile at your family and friends, Smile at strangers. SMILE… the ROI will amaze you!” It got over 30 likes almost immediately. I sent the same message (and photo) out on Facebook, with even more engagement.
People commented how good it made them feel, and some said they were taking the message to heart and spreading the word. People want to be happy! And when you send them a photo with a smiling face, it generates warm feelings and a wish to keep feeling happy.
Sure, there are some sad sacks out there that seem determined to stay in a bad mood no matter what you do, but for the most part we are hard-wired from infancy to respond positively to a smile. Any parent will tell you that their babies responded to smiling faces with joy. They can’t help it. And joy begets joy, doesn’t it? If you doubt what I’m saying, try this experiment. The next time you’re at a crowded mall or walking on a street, pick out a face from the crowd approaching you and direct a 1,000-watt smile at them. Watch what happens. I’ll bet you that 8 out of 10 times the person will spontaneously smile back (or at least start to).
Smiling is good for you—both physically and mentally. In fact, there are a slew of scientific studies that prove the physical and psychological effects of smiling. And I’m not talking about fake smiles, but honest-to-goodness smiles that reach your eyes. They not only affect you, but also have an impact on others around you.
One study followed a set of college-age women for 30 years who smiled in their college yearbook photos. Those who had smiled the most in those yearbook photos had happier lives and marriages, as well as fewer personal setbacks in the following years. Why? One reason is the physical reaction our bodies have when we smile. Smiling has been proven to reduce stress, release endorphins and raise dopamine levels. And we all know how stress-induced hormones can negatively affect our physical and mental health.
However, I think the true ROI of a smile lies in the bond it creates when we share a smile with others. People can’t help but be drawn to you when you smile. So the more we make a conscious effort to do it, the more habitual the act becomes. The law of attraction states that “like attracts like,” so the more you smile, the more positive people you’ll draw to yourself naturally.
Make a conscious effort to make eye contact and give genuine smiles at other people whenever possible. Smile at your kids—smile at your co-workers—smile at every opportunity! It will pay off in spades… I promise.
Smile and the world smiles back…