How can I remember to smile more?
August 6, 2008 9:35 AM   Subscribe

How can I remember to smile more?

People always tell me I need to smile more—and they're right. Strangers often mistakenly think I'm very serious or even cold, and I'm sure it has to do with not smiling enough. Around my good friends I don't have this problem, since they're constantly cracking me up.

So I need to smile more, especially around new people. But the question is, how can I remember to do it in medias res? There are so many things I want to remember—stand up straight, don't have my hands in my pockets, speak clearly. With all these things to do, how can I remember them all?
posted by incandescentman to Human Relations (12 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I think this improves with practice. Can you pick an event -- reception, staff meeting, whatever -- where you make an effort to smile? Maybe practice smiling during short interactions (cashier, elevator, whatever).
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:54 AM on August 6, 2008

Best answer: I have this problem too, just 'cause my "resting face" looks bored and uninteresting and ugly, har har. Since I feel self-conscious about smiling (it seems fake to force myself if I'm not inclined to), I focus on raising my eyebrows instead. It makes it a lot easier to smile, and even if I can't manage a smile the raised eyebrows make me look more alert, or curious, or receptive... or something.
posted by Rykey at 9:55 AM on August 6, 2008

Best answer: Pick a trigger word - I try to smile & make eye contact with strangers whenever I say 'please' or 'thank you'.
posted by dogsbody at 9:59 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I focus on raising my eyebrows instead.

This. It is actually also how you make smiles in pictures seem sincere rather than awkward and false.

Also, I'm a pretty firm believer that emotion is conveyed much more in the eyes than in the mouth. I mean, you can always tell if someone's smile is fake because of their eyes. If you can work on making your eyes smile (pardon the Tyra) then you'll be 80% of the way there.
posted by gwenlister at 10:02 AM on August 6, 2008

Best answer: Whenever I need to do stuff like this I do variations of the old tie a string around your finger trick. Do something that will be reoccurring and physically weird. Wear a rubber band on your wrist, wear your watch on the wrong hand (or upside down), move a ring to a different finger. Put a quarter in your shoe. Stick a band aid somewhere that you don't have an injury. If you wear glasses put a smudge on the inside corner of the lens.

If you keep something unusual in your pockets like a wad of tape or a folded up business card you'll instantly remember to take your hand out of there.
posted by Ookseer at 11:59 AM on August 6, 2008

Everytime you say hi to someone, even if it's a stranger, smile. Anytime someone says hi to you, smile.

Don't wear underpants?

Actually, I think that'll make you squirm if you're not used to a bare butt against denim or whatever >.<.
posted by curagea at 12:42 PM on August 6, 2008

People always tell me I need to smile more—and they're right.

Really? OK, I know this isn't the gist of the question. But really?!

There's nothing wrong with lacking a giddy resting face. And stopping someone on the street - or at the water cooler - or in mid-conversation - to tell them they should "perk up" or "smile more" is pretty much out of line, no matter what the circumstance.

Your smile is just fine. Enjoy it!
posted by puckish at 12:48 PM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

Nothing will wipe a smile further from my face than someone telling me I should smile. Especially a stranger. The gall!
posted by amanda at 1:22 PM on August 6, 2008 [4 favorites]

Try to be grateful for everything you experience. People, places, events, coincidences..

Find funny qualities in what you see.

This has always worked for me.
posted by bradly at 1:53 PM on August 6, 2008

Best answer: Muscle memory is powerful; the more you do it, the more you'll do it without thinking about it.

So start by picking times of day -- just a couple to start -- that you try to smile naturally (raise the eyebrows a bit, let your cheeks go up, feeling relaxed, thinking of something happy) and hold it for a fixed time (like two minutes, or ten, or whatever.)

After a while, you'll be able to do this while being distracted, and soon it'll become natural. This works well when you're acting and you feel your character is better served with a specific facial expression, so that you can get used to carrying that expression through the feelings you think of when holding it, so that it then becomes automatic and you can get out of your head about it.
posted by davejay at 2:32 PM on August 6, 2008

Whenever someone smiles at you, you really should smile back. I have a friend who is the only person I know who smiles back at me every single time I smile at him. He is also generally known as an awesome dude who everyone loves. Coincidence? Possibly not.

I had a boss who'd chide me about my sleep habits every time I yawned, so I learned to force yawns into a tight, artificial smile. Not the most attractive or genuine, but probably comes off better in a meeting than yawning.

People comment on how "perky" and such I am all the time (oh god I hate myself) and I have to say, 95% of that bubbly smiley "oh just peachy thanks for asking" personality is fueled by coffee. It's a lot easier to appear happy when you're wriggling in your chair with caffeine-driven glee, for me, at least.

Telling people to smile more is a bit obnoxious, yes, and everyone has the right to be a miserable git, but why would the poster want people think they're miserable and cold when they're not?
posted by Juliet Banana at 3:11 PM on August 6, 2008

amanda: "Nothing will wipe a smile further from my face than someone telling me I should smile. Especially a stranger. The gall!"

The thread you want is over here.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:31 PM on August 6, 2008

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