While in the waiting room at my doctor's office recently, I picked up a little book that proposed 101 suggestions for happy living. It was intended to be a light read, but as I flipped through the pages, many of the suggestions resonated.
I stopped, however, when I saw the simple instruction: smile.
It goes without saying that when we are happy we often smile, but can a smile itself cause us to be happy?
I recalled a boss in my early days on Capitol Hill who encouraged staff to smile while talking to constituents - especially when they were adversarial. They will be able to hear it in your voice - your tone is as important as your words... I was skeptical at the time, but I was able to defuse more than one angry caller with this strategy. And that feeling of accomplishment did often lift my mood...
I thought also of the smilers in my life - not those of the insincere, forced variety - but the people whose faces reflect genuine joy. Their presence does have a contagious affect...
More often our own lack of contentment is more a matter of being not particularly happy than being truly unhappy. What if - when we find ourselves in such a mood - we simply smiled? The simple act could be just what we need to turn the day around.
Next time you wake up in a funk, give it a try. Flash a smile to yourself in the mirror - or greet your spouse, fellow commuters, or colleagues with a grin as the day begins. See if you can't turn your mood around - and contribute some sunshine to someone else's day.