written by Derlene Hirtz, Founder of You.Empowered Services

Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love. Mother Theresa

Continuing on my journey to meeting 1200 people by the end of January 2108, I met Kenneth this week.  I have been out of town traveling, taking Uber’s when necessary.  Kenneth was one of the Uber drivers last week.  He seemed like a really nice fella.  Imagine, I started talking to him.  He drives Uber as a stress reliever from his full full-time He shared stories of other Uber drivers and why they drive. The majority of drivers use Uber as a means to supplement their full full-time positions.  There is a small percentage that drives full time.  For Kenneth, it is his stress reliever.  He enjoys driving people to their destinations and talking to those who want to talk along the way.  He does have a full-time job in which he is responsible for other workers; driving is a means for him to supplement his income and not having the stress of a staff in which he is responsible for their performance.

As we were heading towards the Ontario Airport, (did you know there is an airport in Ontario, California?  Neither did I the first time I went out to California!) I asked Kenneth if he would like to be one of the 1200 people I am meeting this year.  He was happy to play along.

“Kenneth, what do you do to change the world?”  I asked.

Without skipping a beat, “I smile all the time.”  We had an immediate bond right there!

“Why do you smile, Kenneth?” I continued.

“Because I notice that when I smile, almost all the time, people smile back.  That makes me feel good, knowing I made someone smile, it is my way of making a difference in the world.”

It’s true, science proves that when you smile, others smile back.  Often times, when sitting in the airport, I have my own unscientific research to prove this point.  Often times, people in the airport are focused on their phones or computers, sometimes sleeping, sometimes just not paying attention to the world around them.  I will walk around the airport and make eye contact with as many people that are paying that much attention.  My research shows that approximately 9 out of 10 people smile back at me.  Sometimes I am looked upon with suspension; however, the majority of the time, a beautiful smile is reflected back upon me.  That’s about as scientific as it is.

I became curious about people who smile, and about smiling itself.  Did you know there has been a lot of research done on smiling?  Aren’t you curious as I am?  This is some of the findings:

Not only do babies smile immediately after birth, science show they even smile into the womb!  Before they are reacting to our smiling at them, they are smiling in their sleep.  I wonder what they are dreaming about that brings a smile to their pure, sweet faces?  Perhaps it is knowing they are so well loved, maybe being content in a warm bed, all snuggled up, or maybe for no reason at all.  Whatever the reason, it is sure to make the parent’s heart leap for joy when they see the first smiles of their children.

Smiling boosts your immune system and improves your physical health.  Your body is relaxed when you smile; that contributes to good health and a stronger immune system.  Even if you are in a bad mood, you can instantly lift your spirits by forcing yourself to smile.  Your body releases endorphins when you smile, even when your force it.  People who smile are known to live 7 years longer on average than their counterparts.  Plus, smiling is contagious!  It’s true, as my unscientific study proves in my walkabout through airports.  There are studies out there, one conducted in Sweden shows that people had difficulty frowning when they looked at other people smiling.  Their muscles twitched into smile all on their own!

Smiling helps get you promoted.  Smiling, over wearing make-up, makes us more attractive, sociable and confident.  So you know what that means, when you are more confident and social, chances are you are what managers look for when building strong teams.   We should be training our employees to smile when talking on the phone.  It translates over the phone lines!

Am I convincing you to smile more?

Smiling is a great form of exercise!  A smile involves something like 22 muscles to smile.  A frown?  Approximately 37, but who wants to over-exercise!

Although language is sometimes a barrier, more often than not, a smile is universal.  Notice I said more often than not; some cultures may have different values or customs, so check it out when traveling abroad. However, one study found that a tribe disconnected with Western culture used the expression of smiling in the same way Western culture does:  a sign of happiness, well-being, and joy.

There have been studies (2010 Wayne State University) that look at pictures, for instance, of high school graduates or maybe even the cards of baseball players that can predict well-being and success throughout their lives based on the facial expressions.  This, according to Ron Gutman, founder, and CEO of HealthTap, who became intrigued when his long-distance running brought him challenges.  His answer that got him through:  smiling!

So now we know that:

  • A smile can make you look and feel good.
  • Can get you the promotion you deserve.
  • Can predict your level of success and well-being.

Before I leave you, I thought I would share the story of Ontario Airport with you with the hopes that you smile as I often do when I think about my experience.

We lived in Northern California for four years.  On my first trip out to look at homes, the pilot announced we were approaching the Ontario Airport.  I started experiencing great anxiety (secretly) because I didn’t bring my passport with me.  I just could not figure out or imagine why the airlines would fly me to Canada and then to Sacramento.  The young girl sitting next to me announced her grandmother lived in Ontario and she was so excited to be introducing her baby to her.  I was so happy for her and concerned for myself!

Finally, “Welcome to Ontario, California!” came over the speaker system.

“Oh, you mean there is an Ontario, California?”  I laughed.

Remember:  a smile can be seen in the distance.  So, go for it!

Let’s make this the best week of our life!

 

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