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Impact of a Smile

Turn that frown upside down – really.

There is a song that was sung by the late, great Louis Armstrong entitled “When You’re Smiling the Whole World Smiles with You.” Apparently, the sentiment expressed in this classic is true. A study conducted at the Yale School of Management in 1999 showed that, among working groups, cheerfulness and warmth spread more easily than darker emotions. Irritability caught on with less success than the positive emotions, and depression, fortunately – has the lowest success rate of all.

Laughter is the most contagious of our emotions which is really not surprising. You can prove it in your own small test group by simply starting to giggle to yourself. Soon the rest of those within earshot will be laughing with you – or at least smiling.

The “why” of this is that some of our brain’s open-loop circuits are designed to detect smiles and laughter to which we respond in kind.  Some scientists even theorize that this is a hardwired dynamic in our brains from ages back. After all – their theory goes – smiles and laughter had a way of actually cementing alliances and in doing so, helped our species to survive.

That’s a little deep for me. I’m satisfied with the small group test as proof of laughter’s positive impact on our kind.

I also know, from my own experience, that you are happier when you smile. Smiling even though you may not feel like it. Can actually change your feeling and eventually you’ll feel like smiling.

All sort of impressive institutions and professors have produced scads of research on the happiness factor. There are plenty of scales and graphs to ponder, if that is what you’re looking for. But the theme of it all boils down to this (and it’s what we’ve suspected for years):

In general, people who are in good relationships are happier than those who aren’t. Healthy people are happier than sick people. People who participate in their churches are happier than those who don’t. Of course, there are exceptions and surprises but basically, those who emit positivity are happy and happiness is one of the most likely emotions to spread from its emitter to others.

And it is this simple fact that makes the simple act of smiling one of the easiest ways to influence the atmosphere around you.

Take for example, your studio/gym/school/center.

  • A smile on your face will – according to research – be reflected on the faces of your staff.
  • Smiles on the faces of those working in your facility can – again, according to research – spread to those who may not be smiling when they walk in your door.
  • And smiles emitted by your instructors can create a positive learning environment for every one of your classes – if, indeed, research is correct.

And what are the results?

  • Happy owners make better, more optimistic choices/decisions.
  • Positive managers set the tone for building relationships and success.
  • Smiling instructors not only encourage learning on a daily basis but also create a more positive outlook on your sport or art for the student in the long-run.
  • Smiling parents deliver students to your classes who are relaxed, confidence and ready to learn
  • Happy students are more engaged learners who are open to trying harder and pushing their skill limits farther.
  • And a smiling you can make a not-so-happy you feel better about the day.

Incredible, isn’t it, that something so simple can make such a difference.

All cheesiness aside, perhaps “Turn that frown upside down” is the perfect cure for sorrowful or disgruntled faces – including your own!

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