“Smiles convey not just approachability, but also competence! “
Smile. Smile whenever you think about it. Smile when you notice you’re not smiling and enjoy it when you notice yourself smiling unconsciously. It’s not fake. It doesn’t demean the stress you’re under. It doesn’t mean anything but what you and others choose to make it mean within your individual crania.
There are absolutely loads of reasons to smile that work on a psychological level, but let’s start with what it’s going to do for your physiology.
Smiling speeds up normalisation of your heart rate and cortisol levels. Just like that. Heck, you don’t even actually need to be smiling, you just need to hold a pencil in your teeth like a bone and that’ll do it. The positioning of the muscles seems to be the thing that creates the relaxation.
That relaxation looks like it probably actually pervades your body, causing the cells themselves to become less rigid, reducing damage and enabling restorative processes! Which may be the reason behind findings that smilers live longer, tend to have longer, better marriages and generally highly satisfying lives.
You’re also going to start releasing endorphins and particularly dopamine, causing an uptick in creativity and positive affect. You’ll become not just happier, but more productive and effectively cleverer. In fact, it’s the becoming happier that makes people become more productive, not the other way around. Check out Shaun Anchor’s TED talk for more on that.
So those are just the physiological reasons to smile… what about the social ones?
These days, schools need to pay a lot more attention to their image than has traditionally been the case. An unfavourable inspection or review, poor exam results, some bad press associated with the school or a dour image and all of a sudden, aspirational parents shun the place and the number of desirable applications starts to diminish. That can become a vicious spiral that can be very difficult to emerge from intact.
Smiles convey not just approachability, but also competence! Smilers are universally perceived to be better at their jobs than the folks sporting a frown or neutral expression. Absolutely strange, and probably a bit unfair, but there is a lot to be said for that old proverbial phrase ‘smile and the world smiles with you, frown and you stand alone’.
Parents need to feel that their children are being taught and cared for by the best possible professionals. A smile then, whenever, wherever on the part of the leadership and staff, is probably essential. Especially when things are tough and the future bleak.
Why leave them in any doubt by being stingy with your smile?
Last, but not least: smiles are contagious. So much so, that continual, reckless smiling may, in fact, have a noticeable and increasing effect on the mood of the people around you. It’s our mirror neurons at work. It’s very difficult for a normally functioning person to see someone smiling at them and not crack so much as a glimmer of a smile. More likely, it’ll make them smile completely.
With all the benefits of smiling so readily accessible to almost anyone, it’s really a no-brainer to be smiling whenever you think of it. Eventually, you’ll retrain yourself into a person who smiles a lot, a happier person. You’ll have become one of the changes you wish to see in the world.