The 28 Day Challenge
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Day 15 - Smile

Smiles are not always appropriate and are not the solutions to all problems but they can teach us a lot and improve our well-being at the same time.

This challenge can be taken to whatever level you are comfortable with, however to get the most out of it, challenge yourself to go that bit further. Even if the result is a nervous smile at someone you would never have dared smile at before (a stranger, your boss, a neighbour, the grumpy bus driver, the stunnignly beautiful person in the street) you are giving yourself the opportunity to discover new boundaries for yourself.

If you smile at someone who doesn't return it, you have lost nothing. Don't take it personally. You are building the resilience to create and maintain your own positive state. The response is simply feedback that informs you about them.

Similarly you can use this challenge to gather feedback from yourself.

  1. Be aware of how you feel depending on the person you choose to smile at.
    • I've always been aware of this, i think since I was a kid. I prefer to smile at people than scowl. There is a number of different reactions to it both from the smiler and the smilee.
  2. Do you get different sensations in your body in relation to different people?
    • The obvious one is where you get a smile back from a total stranger. However, corny it sounds there is a sense of connection when that happens - that's the warm glow in the pit of the stomach. Then there's the reassuring smile when someone, for whatever reason seems lost, alone, feels like the only thing to do to. It's a bit like saying, 'everything else might be going totally wrong but I promise i won't add to it'. When you get a smile back in those situations it's another way of bridging the gap - that's the tightening of the throat, let's-have-a-good-cry - but-we-won't - type thing. Then there's the smile that gets nothing back but a scowl. It's really hard not to take that personally, but often or not, the scowl's not directed out, but in. Some of the hardest nuts seem to crack after a while. It's as though people are suspicious of smilers. Probably in certain institutions that's justified, but normally people are just trying to lighten the load and connect a bit.
  3. Ask yourself why? And if you do how can you transform the feelings?
    • I think the sensations are to do with how we connect with people and how isolated we feel ourselves. Those glimmers of connection affect our emotions because we're empathising with people who are happy, sad etc......I don't really know how to transform that feeling short of trying to hang on to the most positive experience and carry that over in any situation.
Day 15 - Smile
1 How did you feel? It's something I've always tended to do so it's probably best saying how do I normally feel? I have to question sometimes why I'm smiling at someone. If it's a boss or someone in authority, I'm i smiling to ingratiate myself, for instance? The only way i can check this out is when I smile at someone with whom i have no relationship, just for the sheer hell of smiling at someone rather than scowling. That emotion connected with the smile is a memory I can use as a barometer to test for ingratiating weather.
2 In what way did you find the challenge useful?
Remember even if the challenge was negative this is an excellent learning for yourself.
Generally, when i smile at a miserable sod, I really do want to call the smile back if they don't reciprocate. But I normally talk myself round and keep it hanging there in space. It's true to say that there's nothing lost by it, except maybe a slight ego bruise, and just maybe it might give the miserable sod something to think about.
3 What insight did you gain? We can really affect each others emotions for the better.
4 What did you learn about yourself? In a positive way you can control the small environment that surrounds you for the better by such an apparently inconcequential action.