Not long ago, a leadership coach gave me one of the most useful, yet most difficult to hear, observations that I’ve ever received on my natural style. For years, colleagues who cared had told me that I needed to smile more. This gentleman told me why: my natural expression is a frown.
I’d never seen it, and I didn’t want to believe him. As soon as our session was over, I made a beeline for the mirror. I’ll be darned if he wasn’t right. All of my life, when I’ve thought I was wearing a neutral expression, others perceived something quite different. I’m not actually frowning, of course, but the hard German features of my ancestry make my face lie about how I’m really feeling. I know, though, that I’ve got a good smile when I use it. Friends have recently remarked on the radiance of my smile as I’ve shared with them the good news of our daughter’s recovery; I could feel my joy transforming my whole face.
With this feedback, I now have another compelling reason to smile more, not that I needed one. Philosophically, I believe in smiling even when I don’t feel like it. I owe it to those around me to lift them up, not drag them down. I’ve also long known that smiling when I don’t feel like it can improve my mood. I’d read that somewhere and experimented with it, and surprisingly it worked. I assume it lifts the mood of those around me and is contagious back, a beneficial boomerang. Most importantly, God has blessed me beyond measure. If that’s not readily visible to everyone who sees me, then I’m not being fully grateful to God. Lately, I’m especially thankful for my blessings and feeling unable to ever issue frequent or sincere enough prayers of thanksgiving. I think I’ll start smiling more.
“You have as much laughter as you have faith.” –Martin Luther