As we head back to school, there’s no better time to spread kindness. For some, going back to school can be a daunting task – whether starting at a new school, or feeling anxiety, fear or concern based on past experiences. Whatever you’re feeling about school is, I encourage you to share one of the greatest and most fulfilling things in life … a simple smile. At the end of the day, you could change a person’s life.
But there is no way something so small can affect people in such a big way! Wrong, in fact, the effects of smiling date back to ancient China with a simple but powerful proverb, “A man without a smiling face should not open a shop”. The proverb teaches us that without a smile there is a great chance your shop (in this case, your life) will not prosper as much as it could, or it may not even prosper at all. Still not convinced? Let’s take a look at science. So, how does smiling affect those around you? According to an article in Psychology Today called “There’s Magic in Your Smile” written by Ronald E Riggio Ph.D. smiles are actually contagious, so much so that when someone smiles the brain can’t help but return the favor and smile back. In a Swedish study, people were shown pictures of other people with different emotions, ranging from joy, sadness, and even anger. But when the picture of someone smiling came up the researchers asked the people to frown. To their amazement, the people struggle to frown and instead started to imitate the smile. A person can consciously choose not to smile, but unconsciously your brain will naturally imitate a smile. In fact, smiling actually can change a person’s entire day from a terrible one to a good one.
I’m going to move away from the technical aspect and factoids and look at an ordinary day. You have practiced and trained for a moment in your life, you finally believe you have made it, and that this is your time and chance. Only to find out it’s not your time and you need to work harder. You internally start thinking of all the work you put in. Was it worth the effort and the pain you are going through now? In your mind, you believe nothing can stop you from feeling this way, until a friend, a stranger, a family member, a teacher walks up with a great and warm meaningful smile. They start talking to you, maybe they crack a joke, or ask about your day – creating that slight smile on your face, and slowly the negativity fades, and joy fills your body. You start thinking it may not be your time now, but it will be in the future. All of this came from something as simple and small as a smile. A second ago you were worried and contemplating where you wasted your time, and now you are building yourself up again.
Now I want you to think about the effects of a smile and how contagious they can be, not to mention how powerful and mood altering they can be. When you head to school I challenge you to take 2 weeks and just smile. Smile at people you would have never smiled at before, that person that sits alone at lunch – flash a smile at them and see how it changes their mood. Be there for others, smile at your teachers as a way of showing you are grateful for having them in your life. Smile at your friends, family … smile at the world. Watch and see how a smile can not only change the world around you but more importantly watch and see how a smile can change you.
Contributed by Free2Luv Advocate Michael Scotten