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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  1. Wow, I might try this! My normal face looks really moody, and a couple of times in clubs I’ve had girls coming up telling me to cheer up lol. I’ve gotta do this one, cheers!

  2. I should do this. In fact, I will! :D

  3. Yeah, spread the word! I think everyone should try this, there’s no harm in trying. I did (figured it out some time ago*) and it made every situation more pleasant.

    (*) why don’t your parents tell you this?

  4. I can relate to that, and back up your claims. It really does work.

    Smiling is nice :D

  5. Saw the link for this post on facebook…

    interesting my friend… very interesting …

  6. […] it is my birthday today, I am 20 years old now. And because Kilian wanted me and other people to smile, I decided to give away a present that makes you smile, hopefully. Here it […]

  7. Already started doing what you described this morning, thanks for writing it up. I hope it works as good for me as it does for your :)

    PS: link in my trackback is dead (my bad), the good one is My birthday an lightbulbs.

  8. Sander Aarts

    I thought your aim was to become some kind of web guru, but now it seems you just want to become a guru. That’s fine of course, just make sure you don’t end up selling your ‘live your life happily’ books on Tel Sell or appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show ;-)

    BTW: I would be smiling a lot more if it was not for IE6

  9. Jimmy Joe

    The idea is to smile the first thing in the morning, when your eyes open from sleep. Make it the first rational thought of the day, regardless of how you may feel. You’re not fully dressed without it. Smiling as a natural facial feature does not easily allow the blues to enter one’s mind. Oh, to aquire this great feeling, you may have to fake it till you make it.