The other day, I was working in the same room as someone else who looked at me typing on my computer.
“Why are you smiling?”
I wasn’t aware I was. It was the middle of a work day and I was busy composing an email about a big project. I wasn’t at the “hope you’ve been well” pleasantries or the “have a great weekend” sign off. I was just writing an email.
And yet, I’ve unknowingly convinced myself that all correspondence is worth sending with a smile… convinced myself to the point that I wasn’t even aware how deeply ingrained in me this habit had become.
When I was running cross country in high school, I read an article or heard from a teammate or somehow just accepted as fact that smiling while running made things easier. There is some scientific backing for this—about saving energy or reducing tension or utilizing less oxygen.
And since then, I’ve held that in my back pocket like a secret weapon. When the workout gets tough… I smile. I drop my arms and get a little smirk on my face and feel extra gratitude for everything that’s brought me to this day, this moment, this run.
I try to give blood as often as I can (we share this frequently on Smile Project social media). And each time I go, I’m reminded of a high school blood drive with one of my closest friends. They were a science-brained person in a lot of ways and at a time when so many of us in our late teens were skittish about the needles or the donation process, this friend chose curiosity. They told me how they were fascinated by the blood donation process and unphased by the sight of blood.
Over a decade later, and still each time I roll up my sleeve, I think of that friend. I think of that conversation. And when the blood center employee is ready to start my donation, I smile and seldom feel a thing.
I’ve had parts of this blog in the queue for almost 6 months now. It’s hard to remember my original intention other than this profound focus on what I call “The Smile Hack.” Smile when you’re talking to someone else. Smile when you’re doubting yourself or your abilities. Smile when you might be a little scared or experiencing discomfort.
Smiles don’t have to be in short supply. You aren’t given a finite quantity each day to selectively share with others. In fact, on the contrary, the joy you put out into the world, you receive back tenfold.
And don’t worry… this idea applies to good smiles too. Last year my brother got married. Between family photos and wedding party photos and “let’s take a selfie on the dance floor photos” I thought it wasn’t humanly possible to smile more in a single day. And yet at the end of the night as I sat cross legged on an Airbnb sofa pulling copious bobby pins from my hair, I felt a soft, tired smile creeping to my face.
Turns out that kind of Happiness can be infinite as well.