“Count your age by friends not years. Count your life by smiles not tears” John Lennon
I was at an Open Heart Meditation class recently, which is different from a traditional meditation class in that the meditation is done through the heart and not the head. A participant is not required to do much but sit and listen to a guided meditation prayer, but there are two important subtle differences. First of all, you need to touch the centre of your chest whilst meditating in order to make a connection to the heart. Secondly and the most important part of the meditation is to smile.
We were told to try not smiling for a few brief seconds and then smile again and see the difference it makes. It sounds so simple and yet when I smiled I noticed a distinct difference in feeling just by turning up the ends of my mouth.
Prior to this I had been reading an article on Love by Barbara Fredrickson in which she says, in order to connect with someone she recommends the SIMS model (The Simulation of Smiles Model) whereby all that’s needed is to make eye contact and smile.
Is it really that simple? I had to go and find out.
A visit to see the Nurse
The first chance I got was my five yearly free health-check at my local surgery. The lady in front of me was clearly having some trouble finding something “ I’m really sorry I’m keeping you waiting “ she said to me. I looked straight in the eye and smiled “It’s Ok” I said. I got a brief but nevertheless a worthy smile back. I suddenly felt OK about waiting. Another “Sorry to keep you waiting” from the receptionist and another exchange of eye contact and a smile and all seemed to be OK.
I sat across from the nurse ready at the computer to fill in all my health details. I looked her in the eyes, smiled “Good morning” I said. Within 10 minutes the smiles had turned to laughter, who would ever have thought that talking about my slightly high end of normal cholesterol level could actually be so funny.
A smiley walk in to town
Off to town at lunchtime and as always, the Big Issue seller was on the corner, “Hello!” I said with a smile, “Big Issue?” she replied. “Yes of course” I said and handed over £2.50. I walked away with a smile on my face, and a copy of the Big Issue under my arm. It was a little further down the road I realised this was the same copy of the Big Issue I had bought on Monday from the same seller.
There are times and places where it may be a good idea not to smile quite so much. Having a one to one session with a gym instructor may just be one of those moments. I found I could read his thoughts “He must be loving this, let’s throw him a few more push ups”
Time for a dance
It’s Friday evening and time to go dancing, which is something that makes people happy. So why doesn’t everybody smile? I have come to realise that my dancing goes up a gear or two when the lady I’m dancing with is smiling. This evening after having such a great day smiling I decided I was going to share the love, make eye contact and smile at everyone I danced with. It did occur to me that I may be mistaken for a crazy lunatic but then again it was a Halloween fancy dress dance, so I could probably get away with pretending I had come dressed as a giant emoji. The amazing thig was I got a 100% return. Everyone made eye contact and smiled, and my dancing got better as the evening went on. The more I smiled, the better I danced and the more I smiled because of it.
What did I learn from the day?
Smiling is infectious, the more I smiled throughout the day the more I got smiled at and the better I felt. It’s amazing how such a simple thing can make so much difference and best of all it costs nothing (although that wasn’t strictly true in my case as I bought an extra copy of the Big Issue and did at least 20 extra push ups) ?
About the Author: Steve Emery is a current MAPP student at Bucks New University. Whilst not studying he runs a small business in Leicestershire supplying various instrumentation to both Industry and Education. Steve is very passionate about Positive Psychology and is looking to spread the word through a series of talks and workshops through his company subsidiary IDS Positivity
‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’