Smile Awhile

Give your face a rest and your spirits a boost

Have you ever been so angry that you just had to smile? Then, before you could wipe the tears of laughter away, your ire was gone? If so, then you know how powerful a grin can be. It can do more than light up your face-it can lift your spirits.

“Physiological changes are tied closely to our emotions,” says Hendrie Weisinger, Ph.D., author of Emotional Intelligence at Work (Jossey-Bass, $25). “The same is true of our behavior.”

Don’t wait until you’re enraged or walk around doing your best Cheshire cat impression. You can get the benefits-a more personable disposition and increased inner peace-simply by maintaining a pleasant facial expression.

Weisinger says you can reprogram your thoughts by exercising control over your behavior. To start, sit in front of a mirror. Relax the muscles around your mouth by drawing up your cheeks as if attempting to smile. Next, raise your eyebrows slightly (too much, and you’ll look surprised). Take a deep breath. Notice how you instantly look friendlier and feel more at ease.

Consider this: you take time to carefully build a wardrobe that projects a professional image. Why not work equally as hard on perfecting your smile? It’s an accessory no one should be without.

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