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10 Things to Learn from Smile (by Ron Gutman)

imageOver the years, I have really focused on (and hopefully improved) my ability to speak to people and use body language to create a friendly presence, particularly in business settings. This is how I became interested in Smile: The Astonishing Powers of a Simple Act (Kindle Single) (TED Books). Although my friend Annie hinted at the power of the smile to me years ago, I didn’t quite realize its impact until reading this short Kindle Single. It’s easy to ready, understand, and only costs $1.99.

Most importantly, you can take away several things to remember that will help you in life.

Here are the ten most notable excerpts I took away from it:

1) Unlike in Japan, in America, smiling at strangers is considered quite normal. On the other hand, frowning at strangers for no reason is considered uncivil and even rude. Interestingly, in some countries, such as Russia, smiling at strangers is regarded as suspicious behavior, so frowning at smiling strangers is completely normal.

2) research from Hokkaido University in Japan, as well as from Northwestern University in the United States and the University of Alberta in Canada, has shown that when someone smiles with the mouth only—and not with the eyes—the smile is not commonly recognized by the Japanese as a “real” smile. On the other hand, when people smile with their eyes but not with their mouths, Americans often don’t recognize these as a “real” smiles. This explains the difference in smiley emoticons in America :-), which use neutral eyes and smiling mouth, and those in Japan ^_^, which use neutral mouth and smiling eyes.

3) When we see a big, toothy grin that shows upper and lower teeth, we’re more likely to identify (correctly) the smiler as British rather than American;

4) feel good has been noted by the well-known findings that when mothers look at pictures of their own babies smiling, it substantially lights up powerful pleasure-related areas of their brain. These are the same dopamine-associated reward-processing regions that other studies have shown to be strongly associated with addictive opiates like cocaine. Luckily, smiling is actually good for moms and children!

5) I learned a tip that I continue to use every day: smile first thing when you wake up every morning. It sounds simplistic, but try it yourself and you’ll discover the magic of this simple act: when your first act of the day is to smile your entire day is primed in a positive way and you begin your day with a fresh, optimistic start.

6) While daily smiling may make us feel as good as if we’ve had chocolate, I’ve also discovered that its actual impact is really much closer to eating an apple a day.

7) Indu Subaiya, who used smiling to transform her experience of natural childbirth. In Indu’s words, “I smiled through my natural, drug-free labor and fully believe it transformed the whole experience. I recommend smiling to all women going through childbirth!”

8) the “genuine” smile—the smile that arrives spontaneously and reflects pure delight. A genuine smile, according to Duchenne and Darwin, involves contracting both the muscles that raise the corners of the mouth (the zygomatic major muscle) as well as those that raise the cheeks and creates those little “crow’s feet” around the eyes (the orbicularis oculi). A non-Duchenne smile involves only the zygomatic major muscle.

9) The contagious nature of smiles works even among strangers, including strangers who have no intention to connect or affiliate with one another.

10) Roni wrote, “I make an extra effort to smile at people who clean up after us. Specifically, when I’m in a public bathroom or a bathroom at work and I see a janitor, I try to make eye contact, smile, and say thank you. I noticed my mom doing this when I was a child, and I saw that it created a little bit of extra respect and happiness