I have a sign in my office that says “Smile, It Confuses People.”

Every morning I drop the kids off at school and search desperately for eye contact from a fellow mum (note the UK spelling) but find that, in a given week, I maybe get two or three half smiles or a reluctant head nod.

Then at the gym, where I see the same ladies in lycra every week at yoga or HIIT class, I find myself looking up from my mat, and again, trying to grab someone’s eyes to offer a subtle smile, to feel a bit of connection.

But in this culture that connection isn’t easy to make. Being an American living in England for the past decade, I have had to downplay my friendliness and smile at random strangers less, so as to not “confuse people.”

But after a decade of this I have realized that NO (!), I should actually smile more — that there’s value in “confusing” people with my smile. Why is she smiling? What does she know that I don’t? What’s her secret to happiness?

The good news is smiling is actually one of my core competencies, and even better for the argument of smiling more, it is proven to be good for your brain and well being.

Our friends at SunWarrior, a healthy foods company, put together a great list on the benefits of smiling. I think there are additional benefits, too, many of which can be applied to a job search for change or return to work:

  • It’s an easy way to “give back, to make a difference” as it makes someone else feel warm inside, and it’s contagious
  • Makes you feel less nervous in a job interview
  • A smiling photo on LinkedIn makes you look more inviting as someone to connect with
  • Smiling sends positive energy into the air – as my communications coach used to say, “use language of abundance” and positive results will come in return – the same goes for a smile – it may even win you a job offer
  • Smiling hardwires your brain to be happier…

Tara Brach, one of my meditation coaches, actually encourages us to smile while meditating in her 25-minute guided smile meditation.

There isn’t enough smiling going on in the world right now. But actually every day is a gift. Every moment is a gift. Even if we are in the wrong job or the wrong relationship, life is still a string of precious moments. Like Ferris Bueller said back in 1986, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

So to me, smiling is one of those small things you can do for yourself and others to give back and to improve your life, for free, any moment of any day. If you want to “make a difference,” as most of my coaching clients say they do, then this is an easy way to start, now, today.

Can you commit to giving three smiles a day for the next three weeks? How does it make you feel?


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A version of this post appeared originally on Shannon’s blog. Photo by Sam Manns on Unsplash