How I learnt to smile…

I have always been a happy person on the inside, and always considered myself to be a pretty jovial and welcoming person.

I started to get comments on some of my social media posts that I would look much better if I could smile more, apparently I always looked so stern.

I have always found smiling didn’t feel very natural, whether it was the impact of my early years growing up having to stare into the sun squinting whilst my parents took snaps with their old 126 format film camera, or the fact I was concentrating so hard and using a Bluetooth remote, I’m not sure.  But sure enough I looked at the photos and I was at best enigmatic with my smile, but never teeth showing or beaming.

I looked at photos of others that I admired, I observed television personalities and I “people watched” wherever I went.  Sure enough, there were smiles everywhere and it lit up their faces with a warmth and radiance.

So I decided to teach myself to smile…

I was extremely conscious of not wanting to be false or hide behind a mask, I wanted my smile to be a reflection of how I genuinely felt inside.  I certainly didn’t want be remembered as someone who frowned or was grumpy all of the time.

So what I did was to practise in the mirror, and this is the honest truth of the matter.  I smiled in the mirror to myself and took loads, and I mean loads of selfies. I felt so uncomfortable to start with, the smile that I was developing felt so unnatural, I was feeling false and deliberate and my mouth ached.

I developed a little chuckle to give my smile a some life and expression at the right moment rather than holding a static pose.  The more I practised this, the more natural it felt, the less of an act it became, and before long it was a part of me.  The smile on the outside lifted how I was feeling on the inside, and my inside happiness then reflected back out into my smile.

I now get complimented all the time, my photos often get comments of how radiant and happy I look, face to face I am often told I beam from ear to ear and my face lights up.

This isn’t false, it is not fake or an act, it is just that I can now learnt express my inner self.  I have come to realise that, as with any posture and body language, the first impression you create with your smile is important.  When you greet people and lead with a smile then the interaction and experience starts on a better footing.  Others instantly find you more approachable and open, they are far more willing to engage, and smile back.

I am always reminded of an album by Sandi Thom, “Smile it Confuses People” of which my favourite track is “I wish I was a Punk Rocker (with flowers in my hair)”.  That track makes me smile, gives me a lift when I think of it and always takes me to a happy place.

I like to leave people with a positive experience, if we all smiled more then the world will suddenly become a much better place.

So remember to smile, it looks good on you…

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