Earlier today, Paige, my number one child came up to me and asked “Dad, can we talk?”
Putting my book down, I asked how much this talk would cost me.
“It’s not about money”. She replied. And then she smiled.
Did you know that children smile on average about 400 times a day? I didn’t. And did you know that adults only smile about twenty times a day? I didn’t know that either but I do know that they don’t all work for me.
By the way, I’m not talking about a fake smile. The one that just involves the lips. I’m talking about the one which includes our eyes and raising our cheeks. The real smiles. People can tell the difference.
Paige’s was the real type. Lips, cheeks, eyes. Everything. She told me she has a new boyfriend. His name is Sven, he’s German and he’s asked her to visit him in Berlin. So Paige, still smiling and her head leaning ever so slightly to one side, was asking my permission for her to go.
In his Ted talk “The Hidden Power of Smiling,” Ron Gutman talks about the positive effects of smiling. Reducing the number of stress-related hormones like adrenalin and cortisol. Reducing blood pressure. And increasing the number of hormones that improve our moods.
Apparently, one really good smile can give us a feel-good factor equivalent to 2,000 chocolate bars! Substitute your own favourites here: Running, especially at the practice, for Jules, dancing for Debbie, anything sweet for Iva, and alcohol for Lisa. Sausage rolls for Nikoletta, sex for Maggie, and more alcohol for Lisa. Debbie’s cakes for everyone -I’ve heard that they’re delicious but I’ve never been quick enough to get any- and diet coke for Alex. Answering emails for Penny, public speaking for Andrea, cheesecake for Sue and any food for Amy. Wearing spotty undies for Kate, more sex for Maggie, camping for Dani and HTM0105 for me.
“So, what does this German boyfriend of yours look like?” I asked. But only after I’d asked the usual dad-type security questions.
“He’s blonde with blue eyes.”
“It’s gonna be interesting when he meets me then.” I half joked.
She laughed. “No, he’s not like that.”
In Richard Wiseman’s book ‘Quirkology’, researchers looked at photographs of women in a college yearbook when they were in their early twenties. Nearly all were smiling. But when they looked carefully, they noticed that about half of the photographs showed a false smile and half a genuine smile. They discovered something. Those with the real smiles were much more likely to be married, to stay married, to be happier, and to enjoy better health throughout their lives.
According to social anthropologists, smiling makes us appear less dominant and more approachable.
You get the idea. Basically, a genuine smile is pretty good for us. So why don’t we (notice I put we) do it more often?
Back to today. Anyway, I agreed to Paige visiting Sven. I know that Denise would have already said yes. So I know that I had to say yes. But I played my part well. It’s a game and it makes me feel important. And any of you girls with children probably do the same with your other halves.
“Oh, thanks dad.” She said. Cue even bigger smile.
My work was done. As head of the family, I had performed my role. And that is to pretend to be head of the family.
My point here is that smiling can be used as an act of persuasion. For someone to like us, trust us, have faith in us and even to get permission to go to Germany to stay with some random person that I’ve never met.
But it has to be a genuine smile!
Smiling is contagious. As an expert on HTM0105 I know that it’s not yet been banned.
I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to underusing it. But I promise to start from tomorrow. Just forgive me if I look silly.
Will you join me?
“Every smile makes you a day younger”