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Smile Like an Optimist

Smile!  Smile at every person you meet and pass today.  Smile at yourself in the mirror.  Check that you are smiling on video too!

By Victor Perton

  • "We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do." said Saint Mother Teresa.

    Smile! Smile at every person you meet and pass today. Smile at yourself in the mirror. Check that you are smiling on video too!

    Is happiness the underpinning of optimism, or is optimism an underpinning of happiness? It doesn't matter - we know happier people tend to be more optimistic. And we know optimistic people tend to be happier.

    Never underestimate the power of a smile. We know that smiling stimulates brain patterns that reinforce feelings of happiness and optimism. Moreover, smiling does so in a way that even chocolate can not match.

    Australian happiness researcher Dr Marmolejo-Ramos found, "In our research, we found that when you forcefully practise smiling, it stimulates the amygdala – the emotional centre of the brain – which releases neurotransmitters to encourage an emotionally positive state.

    In short: when our brain feels good and tells us to smile: we then smile: this tells our brain it feels good, and the cycle goes on!

    Are you smiling now? Have you smiled at anyone today?

    Frank Sinatra sang, "When you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you."

    Just smile.

    Smile at yourself in the mirror.

    Dr David Topor wrote, "A psychotherapy technique to cope with sad feelings is to practice smiling for a few minutes each day. If a full smile is not possible, a half-smile works as well. Notice any impact on your thoughts, mood, and level of optimism."

    Smile at other people. Most people light up and return the greeting.

    Smile at people you vaguely know and greet them.

    Smile and greet strangers on the street, in elevators and walking down corridors. Some will be on screen or focused ahead of themselves or ignoring people. It's good practice to keep smiling and share a friendly greeting.

    IAG published a study in 2022 showing that 95% of Australians would like to smile at and greet strangers.

    Most are too shy or preoccupied with their phones or the sound streaming on their earbuds.

    I greet everyone. And most people greet me and smile back.

    The Kindness Diaries star, Leon Logothetis,  turned this practice into an exercise. He wrote, "This is a fun exercise that builds your kindness and courage muscles. Be first to smile at someone as you pass them on the street and make eye contact with them. We can get so focused on ourselves and shut the world out, but it doesn't have to be like that. Instead of waiting for someone to speak to you, take that leap to be the first to say hello, or to smile, or ask them how they are. I promise this will be a game changer for you in your life!"

    Smile more in the meetings.

    Wearing a mask? Smile with your eyes.

    When you're on a video conference, check in every now and then to ensure you are smiling.

    Ros Ben-Moshe, author of "Laughing at Cancer - How to Heal with Love, Laughter and Mindfulness", told me, "Optimism can be found in a heartfelt smile that spreads from one face to another."

    My friend, Prathibha Prahlad, Founder of the Delhi International Arts Festival, told me, "One of the simplest rules of optimism - smile. Even though your heart may be sad when you smile, you move energy in a positive direction."

    The smiling leader is more potent than the frowning leader: As President George W. Bush put it,

    "It's hard to be optimistic if you aren't able to smile. One of the jobs of the President is to create an optimistic vision for the country."

    Even if you are thinking about how you look, the branding expert Hana Guenzl told me, "Make the day a masterpiece. You are never fully dressed without a smile."

    Some easy steps to smile more:

  • Smile the moment you wake up;
  • Remind yourself in the morning that you will smile more today.'
  • Think about a situation or event that brings you joy;
  • Practice smiling in the mirror;
  • Smile at everyone you see;
  • Become comfortable with smiling and recognise the benefits that smiling brings you.

Ros Ben-Moshe's Smiling Meditation

Chris Norman

Myl Duffy, La Trobe University Bendigo Campus

"What makes me optimistic?  Knowing I can take action and make changes however small to make things better. Not in a grandiose world conquering way, but in everyday life and work for the people I encounter, even in circumstances where the most I can contribute is a smile or a word of encouragement."

Voices of Bendigo Optimism

Keith Kefgen

“What makes me optimistic is my inherent belief in the goodness of people. I know there is a lot of bad stuff around us, but it only takes one act of kindness or a simple smile to reassure me that everything is going to be all right.”

Pascal Schneider

"Optimism comes from the innermost me. Small things make me optimistic: Someone's smile.  A 'thank you.' A 'we can do it.' We just have to see and to listen carefully."

Melanie GentgallCEO and Company Secretary  of PRAXIS Australia Ltd

"It's not always easy to stay optimistic, especially in the world of startups where the highs are high and the lows can be so incredibly challenging. I'm a true believer in being authentic. So I think it's ok to show your vulnerability at times and show how through optimism you can bounce back from the lows to reach the next high. But when things get tough, I put on my biggest smile, a lilt in my voice and head out into the world. It's amazing how your approach to the day can determine its outcome. Start in the way you plan to finish."

 Eric Tjoeng, CEO and Business Stategist

"Simply waking up in the morning and feeling healthy and alive is a blessing from God. Knowing from experience that there is a solution to every problem gives me optimism and helps me smile brightly."

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