A challenge that will make you smile

Smile challenge

Do you want to have some fun and joy in your life?

Yes? Then play with me a while and accept my challenge. I offered this challenge to my mindfulness practice group last week and we’ve been delighted with the results. Read on for details.

I used to take life so seriously. Adult life seemed filled with demands and responsibilities that preoccupied my mind. Life felt serious, and this belief seemed to harden the expression on my face.

Our facial expression either attracts or repels people. A frown or scowl pushes people away, while a smile is like a magnet, drawing people to us.

If you want to draw people in and appear more intelligent and successful, smiling is a powerful tool.

While smiling is a simple but powerful practice to support our health and happiness, it’s also wonderful and enriching to offer others the opportunity to smile as well. Grins are contagious and it’s life-giving to infect others with this contagion.

There’s a strong-link between the toothy-grin and longevity, and even more immediate benefits we can experience on a daily basis. Science is revealing the power.


• Makes us more attractive & appear younger

• Reduces stress hormones and decreases the stress response in our bodies

• Elevates our moods, through stimulating positive neurotransmitters in the brain

• Boosts our immune system

• Lowers our blood pressures

• Is like a natural drug. It makes us feel better, even reducing body pain.

• Helps us look on the bright side, even when challenge arises

• Makes us appear successful

• Is contagious, and is one of the best viruses we can spread.

Smiling sends a reward signal to our brains, which then sends a signal of happiness to the body. It becomes a positive-feedback loop. A genuine smile positively changes our brains.

The scientist within me decided to conduct my own experiment to find out if a simple smile could make me feel better. I must admit, at first it felt odd, smiling for nothing. But then I noticed a shift inside my body.

I now make it a practice to remember to smile, especially when I’m feeling stressed. Instead of letting my face harden into my old mask of concentration, I pause and remember to smile.

I allow the muscles around my eyes and the corners of my mouth to soften and lift. I can feel the changes this makes to my body and within my mind. Letting our eyes smile is an important part of the equation. I’ve made it a practice, even pausing to smile before answering the phone. People can tell if your smiling, even if they can’t see you.

While a genuine smile is the most effective, even a forced smile, moving the facial muscles causes a positive shift inside our brains and bodies.

Researcher Andrew Newberg offered suggestions to learn how to create a genuine smile.

“Visualize someone they deeply love, or recall an event that brought them deep satisfaction and joy. It’s such an easy exercise, and we train people to do it,” he said.

I used to wait until there was something to smile about but no more. And now, I’ve found a wonderful way to invite more people into the opportunity to experience the same benefit. I sure hope you’re going to try it.

So here’s your challenge—should you choose to accept it.

This practice was suggested by a psychology professor Dr. Mark Goulston, founder of the WMYST Foundation.

As you approach a service-person wearing a name tag, using their name, introduce yourself and ask, “What made you smile today?” Each and every time I receive a smile in return. I’ve learned so much about these wonderful people in the process. It’s been great and I’m delighted with wonderful connection this simple question creates.

So, what made you smile today? Let’s infect the world with this practice.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

An assistant minister at the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, she is a retired nurse with a master’s degree in health science and is a hospice volunteer.  She is also an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan and currently spends her time teaching smartUBC, a unique mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. 

She is a speaker and presenter and from her diverse experience and knowledge, both personally and professionally, she has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people gain a new perspective, awaken and recognize we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts, stress or to life. We are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 44 years and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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