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Sporadic photos and notes from a Psyche-midwife, cheerleader, anthropologist--aka clinical social worker in therapy practice. Photos are usually mine except for those of historical events/famous people. Music relevant to the daily topic is often included in a web video embedded below the blog. Click on highlighted links in the copy to get to source or supplemental material. For contact information, see my website @ janasvoboda.com or click on the button to the right below. Join in the conversation.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Resolution #21: SMILE!

 You have a beautiful smile.  Let's see it.

Smiling tends to send signals to the brain that you are happy-- whether or not you are first feeling the smile.  In one study, subjects holding pencils in their mouths in ways that moved facial muscles similar to what happens with a smile, their bodies received similar benefits to persons smiling from happiness.

Smiling also attracts others, and makes them more likely to smile back. 

I had a client many years ago in Texas who struggled with social anxiety and depression.  She was a PIB-- what we called people who dressed all in black back before we'd heard of Goth.  I never had seen both her eyes at once, since she usually had her hair covering most of her face.  One day (trust me, you can get away with this kind of therapy in SE TX), I told her I was getting tired of seeing her all raggedy-assed  in my office and by gosh she better show up next week looking good.  Wear something bright, do something different with that hair.  She was bumming me out.  She humored me and agreed.

The next week she walked into my office wearing a colorful dress and a face-cracking grin.  I didn't even know she had teeth!  I asked her what was up.  "I've had a great morning.  The bus driver flirted with me the whole drive.  Your mean secretary smiled at me."  She'd created a positive feedback loop.  By looking self-confident and happy even before she felt it, others responded to her more positively, and she felt better.

The challenge this month:  smile intentionally at least ten times today.  Whether or not you feel like it-- but do it like you mean it.  See what happens.

Click here for a sweet article on 10 good reasons to smile by Mark Stibich, PhD.
If you have a bit more time, read Eric Jaffe's well-researched article on the Psychological Study of Smiling.

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