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“A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.”
William Arthur Ward
Who would have thought we’d ever be going through something like this COVID pandemic? We’d all be pressed to come up with something good that will come out of it. I think we could find a few though. I just realized one myself.
We’re all dealing with the aggravation right now of wearing face masks everywhere we go. We’re grateful they are keeping us protected. Yet at the same time, many of us hardly miss an opportunity to moan and groan about having to wear them. Yours truly is no exception, although I’m working on this.
What I realized recently is that wearing these masks over the past several months has changed me in a small, but profound way. I’m learning to smile more.
As I walk through the aisles of Walmart these days, for instance, I can’t help but wonder sometimes if the customer passing me by has been affected personally by COVID. If the little girl holding her mother’s hand is afraid of what school will be like soon. If the worker stocking the shelves is feeling safe himself – with everything that’s going on in the world right now.
I’ve always been under the impression that a simple smile to a stranger could possibly brighten their day. It could maybe let them know, not only in a visual way, but in a sort of telepathic way that I’m sending them good thoughts as we pass each other by.
But with a face mask on, a simple smile is pretty much non-existent to a passerby. With one exception. If we smile big enough and sincere enough that it reaches our eyes. So, I realized just recently that this is what I’ve been doing. I’ve been overcompensating. I’ve been smiling big cheesy smiles under my mask in order to let others know that I actually am smiling.
Have you heard of author Amy Cuddy who teaches the power of body language? I watched her Ted Talk years ago where she explained how creating poses with our body can essentially change our thoughts and feelings. We all know the old expression that sitting up straight and tall will give us more confidence. She is famous for bringing this concept to a whole new level.
During her speech, she demonstrated a bear pose that she used before exams in college. She’d go into the bathroom and stand for a few minutes with arms and legs stretched out wide like a bear. After getting into the pose and moving around like this for a few minutes, her mind and body would start to follow suit. She’d be flooded with big bear-like feelings of confidence and inner power.
This is what’s happening to me with these exaggerated smiles. I didn’t even realize it for months, but now I can see that good feelings, like empathy for others, are sinking in. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I’m getting so flooded with feelings that I want to grab that person and start singing Kumbaya with them. But, I’m starting to notice little positive effects from this shift in the way I smile. Things like I’m quicker to smile and longer to stay smiling under my mask, for instance.
And as an author myself (my new book is Finally Worry Free) who has been studying the mind for the past several years – I know that these little effects are not so little at all. New habits like this; new thoughts; and new feelings – no matter how small, keep building up. Little by little, this helps replace negativity that has built up through the years. Basically, it helps a person become happier.
So, the next time you give a big cheesy smile underneath your mask so you can smile at someone, remind yourself it’s a really good thing – for you, for the person you’re smiling at, and I believe, in a small way – for everyone.
Thanks for reading!
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My website is: finallyworryfree.org