Happiness needs a SMILE

Take notice; ‘Action for Happiness’ is having their launch event on Tuesday April 12th, sign up and come along, I’ll be there smiling! At last we’re taking happiness seriously – it isn’t wealth that makes us happier, it is something that comes from within us and through many simple actions and collective mindsets.

Since I was 17 years old I have been writing about smiling and the wonderful benefits it gives us all.

It started in an old exercise book, where I wrote my diaries from a young age. I was naïve; gauche; happy go lucky; a chatterbox, yet shy when it came to ‘going out’ with boys. I sat one night in my bedroom reviewing my teenage looks with despair… yet admiring my SMILE. When I smiled “I felt good – and it seemed to have a good effect on others!”

Simple, effective, logical, I set my stall to be happy. I reflected at the time “I don’t know why some adults don’t smile, as it makes life difficult when they don’t!”

Was I too simple in my early philosophy ? I don’t think so.

My core values in life are harmony (born out of my early smiling), abundance (I learned this as I grew up middle of four, in an essentially happy well-motivated family) and independence (being 3rd/middle child, I learned that to be a bit of a rebel early on and was always encouraged to stand up and be counted)… and the attitude of smiling grew with me into my adult years.

It made it easy to connect with people, even when I felt shy and had to meet with strangers. It helped me to broaden my views now later in life as I work to build healthy happy teams, groups at work, whole communities in the work place and in society.

With the public face of happiness now well researched across the world, the Positive Psychology school of thought and action, and the talk of the BIG SOCIETY, we have more opportunity to embrace smiling in our life. However, I feel many people are too challenged by increasing austerity. How is simple is it to turn our attitudes around?

Let me give you a simple proven example of how smiling works…

I was running a team away-day for a large HR group in major public sector a few years back. We had worked with the individuals in different ways, with profiles, group work, practical and specific assignments, growing their confidence about themselves and each other – and this was their last big day all together.

A review, a learning day, a fun day, a bonding day – and a surprise exercise surprised us all!!!

1. At lunch we spilt then into teams of 4 and sent them out into the daily chaos around Waterloo Bridge/ Southbank, London area.
2. Their task – to take photos of themselves with strangers and those photos to be happy ones!! (Some people looked a wee anxious.)
3. The assignment was that they had to be in the photo as well.
4. So they had to engage with and request in a way that attracted strangers to take part. Only 30 minutes to get this achieved – so no hanging about.
Stunning results returned. All were surprised how much people reacted positively, how much fun they had, how much smiling and laughter emerged. Energy in the team had raised several hundred fold, all felt so proud of their work and shared with ease… and the exercise was remembered for years to come.

How simple is that!

All ages can smile, all different types of people, styles of people, diverse minds and different bodies, can all smiles…. And indeed we can smile in every language. It has to be genuine, a smile that emanates from within and from a place of truth, pure heart and unconditional love; an authentic, totally honest smile!

What do you do to take happiness to heart, do you smile naturally every day and make a difference to someone else’s day?

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