When I was new to the army, I was forever getting in trouble for smiling. When I showed up for Cadet Basic Training for the West Point Prep School, my drill instructor, Drill Sergeant Rodriguez’s first words to me were, “What are you smiling at d**Khead?!”
Most of the times, I’m not even aware that I am indeed smiling. It’s only when someone draws my attention to it that I become aware of it.
By the way, I paid a heavy price, in the form of many hundreds of push-ups, for smiling all the time during Cadet Basic Training. Not a recommended strategy if you’re trying to blend in with the rest of the recruits and not draw attention to yourself.
Out in civvie land however, smiling is good for you, and here’s how:
1. Reduces Stress – And we all have a lot to be stressed out about these days. Smiling releases endorphins that counteract and diminishes the stress hormone.
2. Instant Better Mood – It’s hard to be a grump when you’re smiling. Those extra endorphins lift your mood. If you start smiling, then the people around you will start smiling and suddenly everybody is in a better mood.
3. Builds Trusts – There have been studies that have shown that we are more trustful of people when they genuinely smile at us. Relationships are built on smiles.
4. Strengthens Your Immune System – Smiling triggers the production of white blood cells which of course help you fight illnesses.
5. Builds Empathy – If you find yourself in an embarrassing situation, smiling helps you garner empathetic support from those who have witnessed your embarrassment.
6. Makes You Look Younger – The muscles you use to smile lift your face making you look younger as a result. Who needs a surgical face lift? Just smile more.
7. Makes You Stronger – Ok this one only works if you’re in basic training. Smiling is guaranteed to draw heat from every drill sergeant in your vicinity. I must have put 2 inches of muscle on my chest by the end of Basic Training.