Having the freedom to do as I please each day has been such a wonderful blessing for me. It has allowed my mind to relax away the stresses which accompanied my formerly time consuming work schedule. With greater peace of mind, I have explored new practices such as yoga, meditation, journalling, and other forms of self-care which have improved the quality of my life and my overall happiness. Taking a daily walk, or constitutional as I like to call it, quickly emerged as one of the most enriching new daily practices. This is especially true because it was during a walk that inspiration struck for my most meaningful life change to date: a 30 Day Smile Challenge. Now, having enjoyed a full month of smiling at every person I see, I am happy to report that my smile is the single most efficiently mood-boosting element in my life. It is also a meaningful way to positively impact others and invite connectedness through simple kindness. Smiling is now my secret happiness tool.
I have always had a strong desire to make a widespread positive impact in the world, but I was so focused on finding the "next big idea," that my real power remained untapped. The idea to launch 30 Day Smile Challenge came to me in a eureka moment. I walked past a group of homeless men in a park one day, and rather than avert my eyes, I softly faced them and smiled. The gesture was simple but it was clear that I had sparked real joy in them. We shared a momentary connection as they nodded their heads in appreciation. As I watched them pep up, it dawned on me that I could add a small nugget of goodness to thousands of people's days if I just made the effort to smile at everyone I see. Improving the lives of everyone I see would be sure to make a positive impact in the world, and I didn't even have to develop an app to do it. Ask and you shall receive!
I decided to test my hunch with a 30 day challenge because that seemed like the perfect timeframe to validate its efficacy and create a new positive habit. I had seen lots of 30 day challenges floating around on Pinterest and mentioned in personal development podcasts, so the concept was already germinating in my brain. 30 days is long enough to make a challenge worthwhile but no so long that you shy away from it. Armed with a goal and a means to make it happen, I launched my effort to be "all smiles."
The great thing about my challenge was that I could begin it immediately. As each person walked by me in the street, I'd make eye contact and and flash them a grin. Many people were startled, and some didn't know how to react. It's crazy how many people are accustomed to others failing to acknowledge their presence in the world. Yet even the most startled people received my gesture without issue. Though they may have thought "that girl is crazy," they never said it. In fact, the response from most people was a smile or soft nod in return. As I became more comfortable smiling at complete strangers, I think my forced smile receded into a welcoming beam, radiating my positivity to the world.
I felt more powerful than ever before. Each day as I made my way through the world, I sensed increasing connectedness to other people, and their return smiles felt like a love shower. Sometimes my smiles sparked flattering compliments or serendipitous conversations. I definitely has helped me make new friends. I met an amazing woman at a cafe when she commented how impressed she was that I smiled at everyone. She's now a close running buddy. I'm also convinced there are psychological benefits of smiling too. It's hard to feel down when you are smiling, so you can trick yourself into a good mood by doing it often. What's more, we all look better when we smile, so I felt like the picture of radiant beauty. Smiling made me feel high. It's definitely therapeutic.
What I Learned
I learned that I am a warm and thoughtful person who can follow through and achieve goals. This challenge showed me that I am deeply connected with others, even strangers, because we are all moving along the journey of life together. I found out that all the prodding I had heard through the years from my parents and friends to smile more, was spot on. This challenge also led me down the amazing research rabbit hole that is the "science of smiling." As it turns out, Darwin and many other scientists have been validating my intuitive beliefs on the happiness-smiling connection for ages. I also am now a major proponent of the transformative power of 30 day challenges (my next one is already underway!). Most importantly, I now truly appreciate what a unique gift my smile is to me and the world. It is my signature.
This 30 Day Smile Challenge had a tremendous positive impact on my life and (Inhumbly believe) the people I have encountered. I enthusiastically encourage all of you to take a shot at it and experience the life changing magic of smiling for yourself!
Thanks for reading! Please share this blog post with someone who makes you smile!