Kilian Valkhof

Building tools that make developers awesome.


Life, 24 November 2008, 2 minute read

When I look around me, outside, when commuting or shopping, I pretty much only see serious or angry looking faces. Two years ago I found out that I myself looked angry often, and decided to just start smiling. And it had quite interesting effects!

You see, there’s nothing wrong with getting agitated by public transport, traffic jams, slow walking people in the street or whatnot, but keep looking that way for a couple of years and it starts to show. I was honestly a bit afraid of that. Some day almost two years ago, I decided to just start smiling in place of my “neutral” face (which was actually pretty angry looking).

It felt pretty uncomfortable and stupid and I felt like other people were constantly looking at me.

A couple of weeks later

But I stuck with it. Then after a couple of weeks, everything changed. My smirk/smile face had become my neutral face. Here’s what that did to me:

So, actually, There is research that backs this up.

But I didn’t know that at the time.

Pleasant surprise

All I cared about was not looking like one of those agitated commuters. (Even if I was one!) I was really pleasantly surprised by all the effects. I expected people in conversations to perhaps start smiling as well, but I never imagined other people randomly smiling back at me. A random stranger smiling at you feel great.

People around you being nicer is great, but the two other effects (my greater confidence and happiness) made quite an impact. The best thing is, once you start feeling more confident and more happy, it just keeps increasing: you are happy, you smile more, you get happier.

Some days, I feel euphoric for no reason.

So my takeaway. Smiling is easy and makes you happier. Next time you visit a client, don’t just smile to them, but also smile to every single person you meet on the way, smile to the street, to the sky and most importantly, to yourself.

Have a great week :)

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