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Have you ever been posing for a photo when the person taking the picture struggles with how to operate the camera? Your smile becomes awkward and uncomfortable to hold.

This is because your smile was FAKE to begin with.

I have found that a smile is just like any other endeavor we undertake…It gets better with practice.

I am not a super social individual. I find social interactions uncomfortable. It takes a great deal of effort for me to genuinely smile in public. For that reason, I became determined to develop my smile.

This may sound strange to some…especially those who are naturally social.

A drill I use every morning is, I stand in front of a mirror and force myself to smile for 30 seconds. If I falter, or see my smile look less than genuine, I start over.

You would be shocked at how hard this is. My wife can’t, or won’t even do it. I have challenged her several times, and she doesn’t make it past 5 seconds.

I have found that doing this exercise every day, makes my day a thousand times better. I walk out the door with a more positive outlook on life, and things just seem to be more awesome.

90% of the time, if I smile at a stranger, I get a smile in return. The other 10% of the time only encourages me to help make that person’s day better.

I learned this by accident when I traveled to Thailand to study Muay Thai. It is called ‘The Land of Many Smiles’ for a reason. Culturally, Thais smile as a greeting. If you ever meet a frowning Thai, you took a wrong turn somewhere.

I have found that Russians do not smile. That goes for most Eastern European countries. In fact, they are on guard when you smile at them, supposing you are up to something. I have also found that if you keep smiling, and do not mirror their frown, they warm to you eventually.

Recently, I encountered a street vendor in Mexico. I challenged myself to smile at her throughout my interaction with her. It got to the point that my wife walked away, because she felt uncomfortable. I ended up getting an item for LESS than what I had originally asked for, because she insisted that we were now friends. (I spend a lot of time doing social experiments. I am fascinated by the Human condition.)

As a point of caution, I have found a smile can be very disarming in tense situations, but I have also found that people may not think you are appreciating the gravity of a tense situation if you smile at an inappropriate time. Taking a deeper dive into this, however, I have determined that a genuinely warm smile, as opposed to a forced ‘smirk’ is the key to bringing down the tension.

In a negotiation, a smile a can ‘frame’ your opponent into a seemingly comfortable feeling. People that are happy, are far more agreeable, and less likely to perceive you as an adversary.

The point of my rant, is that smiling never hurt anyone, and who knows…you just might make someone’s day…maybe YOUR OWN!


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