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The Art of Smiling

Photo by Tina Su
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, and honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ~Leo F. Buscaglia

Actually, there isn’t any art behind it. Just that you were born to be happy, and you can show this happiness with that beautiful smile of yours. C’mon! Let’s see it. :) Okay, good.

To some extent, we all know how to spot a genuine smile, basically this formula:

Genuine Smile = Crinkly Eyes

bbc-faces.jpg We are all sensitive to this genuine scale, so why then is it that when we cross paths with a stranger or casual acquaintance in the elevator, we give them a fake smile? That ‘polite smile’. You know what I’m talking about (don’t get me wrong, I do this too, unconscious at grocery stores, on streets, while waiting for something.).

The lesson? Smile with your eyes! Feel it genuinely and it will come out naturally.

Extras: check out this quick interactive quiz from BBC to test out your ability to spot the difference between a real smile and a fake one.

Side Note: I am now smiling as I write this article. I love it! Thank you for reading and allowing me to express myself creatively.

A smile is so simple, yet so powerful. Some noticeable effects of externalizing your internal joy are:

  • People will be attracted to you – I don’t mean sexually (well, maybe that too), but people will feel drawn to your energy. When you smile more, you will carry an aura and poise that will draw people to you. People will look forward to being around you, knowing only that they feel great around you. People on the street, at work, your friends etc. We all like and want to be around happy and cheerful people, right?
  • Optimistic – You’ll feel more positive about yourself and the world.
  • Happiness & Joy – A smile is an expression of happiness and joy in you. Like an upward spiral, a smile will boost the happiness you feel.
  • Healthy – A smile can affect your internal state, which can have physiological impact on your physical and mental health.
  • Approachable – A smile is so welcoming and will make people feel more at ease.
  • Making Other People Happy – A smile has the power to make other people feel good about themselves. It’s heart-warming and has the power to cheer up others instantly.
  • Smiles Are Contagious – Others can quickly and easily catch it and will experience the above ‘side effects’.

Take The Smiling Challenge!


  • Smile at Strangers -You know those times when we cross paths with a stranger or accidentally catch someone’s gaze, and we (both) would suddenly look away in awkwardness or pretend we are looking at something else? Well, the challenge is to give them a big smile. A genuine smile, showing teeth and everything. Deepak Chopra talks about giving each person you encounter a small gift. I do this with a smile. Why not? It doesn’t cost us anything. Plus, it’s a lot more fun than feeling awkward and pretending you’re not there.I also love to see people’s reactions when you smile at them, and they aren’t expecting it. Some blush, and others are surprised and smile back, which makes me feel all warm inside.
  • Smile at Homeless People and Street Hagglers –

    I live in a part of downtown Seattle with lots of street hagglers and homeless people. People often ask me whether I get ‘harassed’ often. The answer is: sometimes. But they really are very nice, just like the rest of us. They too need attention and acknowledgment. So, give them a gift worth more than money.Next time someone asks you for money, don’t try to ignore them. Turn to them, smile warmly and tell them how you feel. If you don’t feel like giving money, just tell them “Sorry, I don’t have change now. Have a beautiful day!”Similarly, if something is trying to sell you something or ‘hitting-on’ you, simply turn to them, smile and say “No thank you.”I’ve found that it takes more energy to ignore and pretend to be very serious, than it is to smile. So smile! Make someone’s day!

  • Smile Fully -You know that half smile we give people when we’re trying to be polite? Like on an elevator, bumping in someone at the front door, or waiting in line. Why not practice giving them a real smile? It’ll be less awkward and you can potentially make someone’s day, or a new friend!
  • Smile at Work -Living under a routine, we can easily be in a zombie-like state when coming into work. We zip into work quickly following the same routines we’ve habituated. Our target is to get to work, and we can sometimes forget about the people around us, in other cubes/offices/departments. So, the challenge is to practice beaming with smile as you come into work. Smile genuinely with people you meet. Be completely pleased to see them. Make it a focus for the day, to bring more happiness into the lives of others. Ask them genuinely and infused with energy, “How are ya?”How was your weekend?” Watch the smiles surface on their face.
  • A Small Compliment with Your Smile -When meeting or encountering people. Look for things you admire or like about them, however small, let them know. A small genuine compliment can go a long way to lift people’s spirits.

I’ve found it useful to be conscious of things that make me smile. You might want to spend a few minutes making a list of things that brings a smile to your face.

Some Moments That Make Me Smile are:


  • When Tommy (my eight pound Pomeranian doggie) does one of his tricks: spin in circles, playing dead, or his ‘moonwalk’ dance (that’s right, he moonwalks… *laughs*).
  • When I practice gratitude ‘sessions’
  • When I reach mini goals throughout the day.
  • When I read comments left by readers.
  • When savoring sweet taste of vanilla ice cream
  • When I do my happy dance, and make friends laugh with my ridiculousness.
  • When Adam (my partner) brings me food or chai in the morning as I’m working away on my laptop.
  • When my mother laughs

More Tips To Bring Smiles into Your Life

  • Smiling Journal – For two weeks, record the moments that brought out your wonderful smile. If you are ever feel down, flip through this book to be reminded of things that make you smile. Experience those moments and notice your state shift to a positive one. You cannot be both angry and smiling at the same time. I learned in physiological psychology that if the physical action conflicts with that of your feeling, the feeling inside will shift to match that of your outer sensation. One way to shift your emotion is to change your physiology.
  • Appreciation – Identify things that you are grateful for. Then focus on those things as much as possible.
  • Humor – Make a point to watch a comedy movie. To go a comedy club. Hang out with people who make you laugh.
  • Go On a Self Date – When we feel more connected with ourselves, we feel more joy and tend to naturally smile more.
  • Find Innocence – Observe a small child or a pet at play with total ease and freedom. Watch their innocence, enjoy their presence and yours. Are you smiling? Do you feel happy for them? That’s because you are connecting with the same innocence within yourself.


What makes you smile? Who made you smile today? Share your joy and happiness in a comment! See you there. *smiles*

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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115 thoughts on The Art of Smiling

  1. Daniel

    I decided to search for a way to become more charismatic because of the fact that most of my close friends say I’m kind of a dark and scary type of person. I don’t mean to look or act this way, In my opinion I’m pretty nice. This article helped me quite a bit. I hope you get a smile out of this comment.


    I even left you a bunny. ;D

  2. Kayroll

    I stumbled upon your site and was really inspired with your thoughtful writings especially this one.
    I don’t smile that much since I have a bad teeth.So I used to smile without showing my gum.It doesn’t feel genuine though.
    After reading your inspirational article regarding smiling,I have decided to go “smile” and be more gracious about it.I just don’t care how am I going to look like.It does not really matter anymore.

  3. Jasmine

    Thanks! This helps alot. *Smiles*
    I did not know a smile could mean so much, and that it can be beneficial too! After reading this, I am going to remind myself to smile often. I used to avoid eye contact with anyone looking my way and shy from them. I guess it is a challenge to smile at them. You know what? I am going to take this challenge. I will try to update you on the results.

    -Jasmine :)

  4. Red

    I really love this article!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I will try this things at school…..

    oh by the way…. for the author….YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL!!

    I hope you smile

  5. Doson

    Cool… thanks for sharing. I never thought silly things like “what makes you smile?” will bring me so much of Love. Now.. I’ll go and make my list.

  6. Dave

    Crinkly eyes = Genuine Smile. Not true !! unless you’re caucasian. If you’re Indian or middle eastern and I think a few other ethnic backgrounds chances are that you’re genetically blessed with not having crinckles around your eyes so nomatter how hard you try or how genuine your smile maybe its not in ur genetic pool to crinkle your eyes. Whoever did that research did it solely on caucasian.

  7. Pierre

    This website is really great. Thanks for this website. love it *smile* :)

  8. What a great post! Smiling is definitely underestimated and underused. It is sooo easy for us to focus on what we are lacking and worry about how we will muster the energy to go to the job we hate, think about how the laundry is piling up, or wondering how we are going to be able to afford to send our kids to college. It makes me think of this wonderful book I just read by a man named Andy Feld called ‘Wake Up, Your Life is Calling.’ It’s about how anyone can be happy no matter what appears to be happening all around you.

    It really is all about where we allow our attention to gravitate. And that should be something we practice everyday. I love the idea of writing a list done everyday of what brings a smile to myself. I think I will start that today. Your post would be at the top of the list.

    Thanks again for the inspiring post! Kim

  9. Kim told me about your post and I could not resist. We are all discovering the path to Oneness. Yes there is a common thread which weaves through everything and everyone on this Planet and in the Universe. Attaining Oneness is understanding the glue which holds everything together, and that is LOVE. A heartfelt smile is food for the collective oneness consciousness of LOVE. It’s where everyone of us can get started and contribute!

  10. I am conducting a 30-day experiment where I smile at most everybody I can. The results so far clearly show the powerful effect of a smile on friends, family, coworkers, and strangers. I am on Day 13. Follow the experiment at – I post a summary of each day at this blog.

  11. Rani

    It is such a nice article…
    I agree to all the points mentioned so beautifully in it…
    The article is close to reality and thats wat fascinates someone to it….

    I m so inspired after reading it…I thank the writer 4 being such a help…

    Now I can SmiLe and make sm1’s day………

  12. Briana

    Wow today had me feeling pretty down I won’t lie, but then I read this and just kept smiling because i was trying to listen to the article, and I suddenly felt better, and found myself laughing. Laughing! I mean thats pretty awesome to me!

  13. premabose

    Hi! I simply loved your smiling tips. I always love to smile,and I always wonder why people look at me quizzically, and I restrict myself to a hesitant ‘polite smile’ or 1\4 smile. As I am writing this I am smiling my widest smile and am brimming with joy, as I realise smiling can never hurt, it can only bring a joy of recognition or acceptance. It costs nothing, so why not smile more? Thanks!

  14. I think I need to do another smiling experiment! Wife has been a little on the not-so-happy side since I ended the last experiment and slipped back into my old self.

    15 days of smiling this time, just to see what happens.

  15. shalini

    Its wonderful sir,keep writing all these…god bless u….

  16. Nice post, like this
    Smile is observance

  17. Tina, I was browsing the web searching for unique and creative gifts when I found your site. Thank you so much for this thought inspired, touching forum. I love new ideas and will use some of the ideas shared. I am alsays looking for ways to inspire my work team and you gave me multitude of ideas. I can’t thank you enough and I will be sharing my joy with all my family and friends.

    Blessings and prayers to you Tina.

  18. Farzam

    “Who made you smile today?”

    while I was reading your article :)
    But before that,I was helping a friend in some thoughts about life(I learned alot too but seemed like he really enjoyed my company)
    So I was happy because of that

  19. Lana

    you asked us to state what made us smile, well, this article just made my day. CAN”T STOP SMILING NOW!!! THNAK YOU <3 :D

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