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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. DanyOctrome

    Hi Tina! How are you?

    I’ve enjoyed reading this post.

    You said that our comments make you smile, so smile now! :)

  2. Alfonso

    This article could be better if you point out the fact that you don’t have to have a reason to smile: just smile and you will feel better.
    To smile you just have to flex the muscles of your face. You don’t need to think in something positive, or a memory or anything. If you do it that way you are conditioning your mind to have to have a reason to smile, like Pavlov’s dog.
    Just smile and leave your mind in blank. If you do it like that, you will discover that you don’t need a reason to smile.

  3. Thanks for reminding! Brought a smile back..emptied by cup by half as well! :)

  4. Rum

    I don’t know why, but I was smiling as I read this ^^

  5. michelle

    Hi! i find it very…helpful .. thanks for your post.. what a good tips you have there..

    God Bless you.. i hope i can do better in my new for workplace… i wish i could smile naturally to the customers and staff .. cause they find me so serious and it makes them feel intimidated.. :)

  6. TOSIN

    hello Tina,
    its a great piece you got out here. I’m really loving it. I got 11/20. I think i tried spotting the difference out. i smile a lot but only when the occasion calls for such but I’ll like to take it further by making it a daily thing even when i don’t have anything to cause the smile. I’ve discovered that it pays even more to smile always even while sleeping, it makes one feels so relaxed about life and the joy one gains from doing such is so amazing. I’ve started practising to smile even when there are no reason to smile but its kind of funny to me myself and even makes me smile even more; its kind of a foolish thing to do too but it really pays believe you me. i only pray I’m able to do this regularly until it becomes natural and a way of life. believe you me, smiling is relaxing. thanks a lot dear.

  7. I’ve been working on strategies to smile more (I was told when I was young that I wasn’t a smiler and it kinda stuck) so I’m hoping to change that now as an adult. Thanks for the tips!

  8. I absolutely love this article. I wish I had seen this prior to publishing my own article because although I briefly touched upon smiling, I think it is pivotal to your daily routine in an effort to feel happier. I LOVE the part about smiling at random strangers, I hadn’t thought of that but now I feel inspired to conquer my fears and give a stranger a big grin. Thanks for writing this article, I think these are realistic ways of bringing happiness.

  9. Ruby

    Excellent articles!! I love them!! Thank you!!

  10. I’ve never been able to get into the habit of similing. I’m going to take your advice and try the smiling journal, and do my best to make this a daily part of my life from now on!

  11. Have you ever thought about writing an e-book or guest authoring on
    other websites? I have a blog based on the same subjects you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information.
    I know my readers would appreciate your work.
    If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email.

  12. divine

    hey Tina ! what makes me happy today? You’re article :D while I’m reading I’m practicing those genuine smile *laughs, pretty good article keep it up! :))))))

  13. lee.bonifacio

    another interesting article, i smiled so many times just reading it!!! if your reading this, have a lovely day :) full of *smiles *

  14. Nivedita

    Hi Tina…. Thanks for sharing such a good article. Being busy in our day to day work we tend to forget these simple rules of life to smile and appreciate people which makes you and others happy. I take the opportunity of this platform and wanna thank god for helping me to smile everyday… :)

  15. george

    When I feel down and out I listen to rodney dangerfield

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