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Smile... and the World Smiles with You

The District Governor of Rotary District 5450 gives reasons to smile.

by Jim Haldeman
District Governor 2011-2012
District 5450, Colorado, USA

"What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to Humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life's pathway the good they do is inconceivable." 

This comment, by Joseph Addison, explains, for me, why Kalyan Banerjee added the Million Smiles a Day campaign as part of his Changemaker Award. Kalyan asked that, "Club members along with their families, friends, and colleagues should consciously give one smile per day to another person through a good deed or gesture. As more people commit to little acts of kindness each day, the global benefit will become enormous."

Albert Mehrabian is considered the research authority on communication, and he determined that 55% of our communication, in most situations, is received from the speaker's body language, and much of that from facial gestures. The smile, therefore, becomes a large part of our message in what we think, do, or say.

Kalyan realized that if every Rotarian, family member, and friend, smiled twice a day or found a small act of kindness to perform-thus offering 5 million good acts per day-the world would be immediately a better place in which to live.

Mark Stibich, Ph. D., lists the top ten reasons to smile:

1) Smiling makes us attractive - We are drawn to a smile

2) Smiling changes our moods - Try it and see what happens

3) Smiling is contagious - A smile will light up a room

4) Smiling relieves stress - The mind/body connection at work

5) Smiling boosts your immune system - The mind/body connection at work, again

6) Smiling lowers your blood pressure - The mind/body connection at work, once more

7) Smiling releases endorphins, natural painkillers, and serotonin - The mind/body connection at its best

8) Smiling lifts the face and makes you look younger - A lot cheaper than a face lift

9) Smiling makes you seem successful - Confidence is powerful

10) Smiling helps you stay positive - Smiling, while thinking something negative, is very difficult to do.

But if you were to research (or google) cortisol, which is the chemical released when emotions turn angry, you might decide to spend a lot more time smiling than thinking bad thoughts. Cortisol, among its numerous attributes, has been found to slow healing, clog arteries, and draw the skin; it is often referred to as the aging chemical.

The other day I was leaving a school after an evening presentation and the janitor (sanitary engineer) was cleaning up, and I mentioned to him, "So, you are the one that keeps this place so clean." I watched his shoulders go back, his head rise a little higher, and as a large smile spread across his face he said, "thank you." I knew, in that brief moment, I changed the chemistry of his body for the better. The good news: it did not cost me-or him-a penny.

Smile because it is part of the Rotary International President's request. Smile because people are more likely to support you in what you want to accomplish. Smile because it just might change the world. 

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