Smile and watch the world smile back!

It’s so easy to frown, and there are so many things to frown at: a colleague who comes into your office and chats as if you have nothing else to do, a stack of bills, traffic riddled roads. But when we take these frown makers and trade them for a smile, a funny thing happens: Our annoyance at the problem starts to slip away. Unless of course, we are hell bent to stay annoyed. The next time you’re tempted to frown at someone, try grinning instead. The person may be taken aback, and you’ll be surprised at how your attitude will follow the expression on your face.
Many women spend tons of money on products to enhance their looks and, in particular, their faces. Antiwrinkle creams abound with the promises of youth. Mascara, blush, and eye shadow are designed to give our faces a lift. However, have you ever considered the fact that the expression on your face has a lot more to do with the types of thoughts you have rather than any magical makeup or lack of wrinkles.
If you were to park your car on a busy street and observe people walking by, you would see an inordinate amount of stern faces, clenched jaws, and just plain grumpy looks. These uptight faces, in turn, create uptight bodies, which the brain translates into believing you are getting ready to fight or flee. By the end of the day you will probably resemble a dead parrot.
As children, you had from eighteen to twenty facial expressions. By the time you became an adult, you were down to four. Since adulthood is supposed to be more serious and important than childhood, being too expressive may make us afraid of appearing foolish. As grown-ups we restrict foolishness, play and happy faces until its Friday or we’re on vacation. This is not necessarily true for everyone but the cultural norm is the analogy that looking serious is much more in alignment with being successful. The ultimate irony is that companies that have made fun part of their mission statements are often highly productive.
Smiles, frowns, and grimaces were once seen simply as expressions of feelings. However, researchers now see the face as a body organ of its own. The “Facial Feedback Theory” proposes that if you ask a person to smile, she soon begins to experience the pleasant feelings associated with that expression. The head of plastic surgery at a local hospital told me that as we age, our faces set into a mask. If this is true, it’s important to keep our facial muscles flexible by laughing and perhaps by making funny faces.
A pleasant smile can help you to have a relaxed mental state and body. Why not give it a try? It’s free, and you’re liable to get a wonderful reaction—someone might smile back.


Are we losing touch with each other in exchange for conversations focused on listening to ourselves talking?

Last week I was trying to have a conversation with an acquaintance of mine. I use the word “trying” loosely, since I felt I was in the midst of a verbal martial arts competition. I became extremely vigilant about observing when my friend was about to take a breath. It was then that I was able to squeeze in a few words of my own. I was amazed at how many words she could elicit without stopping for a breathe. I really was in a no win situation since my replies seemed to disappear into thin air. She just continued on her mission of discussing her issues without so much as an acknowledgment that she had heard one word I said.
This type of exchange is not an anomaly. Trying to converse today is often a losing proposition. When I look back in time, which is often my go to as I observe the culture we live in. I cannot believe how far we have come into not listening to one another in lieu of talking about ourselves or simply being more interested in hearing our own voices. As a daughter of a family that had strict rules about interrupting, as did many of my friends, I am now witnessing interruption as a new paradigm. The Nuns that were a huge part of my education simply had to give a look if you dared to talk while they were talking.
Actual listening was a big part of what I learned. When you don’t listen you will have a tendency to respond with you think you heard. In the early years of my career, I taught communication skills in many organizations. The amount of chaos that comes from not listening can create a great deal of problems not only in a company setting but in our relationships as well. How we respond is often predicated on parental influence, brain chemistry, how much stress we are under, or even how little sleep we’ve had.
We are now in an era that has exacerbated all of the above. Have you had the experience of being in the midst of a dialogue with someone and their cell phone begins to ping incessantly? “Oh, you don’t mind if I catch this call do you?” What if I said “Yes, I do, you’re being rude!” I could be understanding if something serious is going on and you must answer. But most often, you can call back without the threat of the world coming to an end.
My greatest fear is that we are losing touch with each other in exchange for conversations focused on listening to ourselves talking or waiting anxiously for our next text. I love the following quote “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening, when you would have preferred to talk” Doug Larsen