Monday, July 27, 2009


If YOU GIVE ... a Smile

BY Christine Robert

A very big smile comes when I’ve just conquered some wonderful balancing pose in yoga like handstand or forearm balance. I smile with great satisfaction once I’m atop the gnarly rock wall via fingers and toes, with a minimum of knee and elbow bruising. But when I bike up an average 9% incline on a mountain pass and descend it safely my breathless smile is the best. My inner guide tells me I’ve done a great job and the knowledge of the victory is sufficient to confirm that I am successful: I smile BIG.
Smiles are infectious. I believe adults are often attracted to children because they smile so easily. Even the children of Gaza who have been through “twenty-two days of horror in December and January” still smile because they are resilient and curious (Corrie, 2009).
When I send a smile to my neighbor on the Southern California freeway, I almost always find acceptance in my lane change request or my effort to assist someone else with a particularly daring road maneuver. A smile can tell your freeway neighbor “I am a human being, just like you, maybe a little later for my appointment than you are. And when I see you (or someone else like you) another day, I will gladly Pay It Forward.” Sometimes I get the Cut-Off instead and that stings like a slap. I become very introspective, “Why doesn’t she like me?” “What’s going on in his day that would cause this kind of response?” I take it personally. I wonder if my hair is wrong or I forgot to put on my make up this morning. It has to be something I’ve done. The truth is that it’s not personal at all however. It’s a poverty conscious and ego-based response. My yoga teacher would say it’s a front-body reaction (small self) not a back-body reaction (universal Self). It’s not personal, but it feels so.

Other people feel that it’s the other person who is not hitting his mark that day, often wondering “Why did he get up on the wrong side of the bed?” “Who spat in her coffee?” “Why is she so bummed out today?” The whole truth is that the world is our mirror we can see how people in our lives are reflecting what we perceive and feel in each moment. If I smile and someone doesn’t smile back at me, I know that the truth may be that I didn’t truly feel like smiling, or that a smile would not advance my soul’s purpose that particular day.

But when I’m at the store or at a networking function, a smile is an opening. It’s permission to begin to talk, to become known to one another. This feels quite good. Just like on the freeway, when I smile at a person I do not yet know, I am almost always welcomed into the next stage of communications. This is the doorway to increasing my powerful network of friends, acquaintances and business contacts. In this context a smile is my key to success.

Curiously enough, Matthew Ansfield (2007) reported on a study that aimed to understand why people smile in situations that are unpleasant. One reason offered by researchers is that this “smile” is often a mask to hide an uncomfortable emotion. Ansfield learned that respondents in this study reported largely that smiling in an unpleasant situation was socially inappropriate and that people judge these folks as less likable than those who do not smile through an unpleasant situation.
When the doo-doo is hitting the fan and people are exhibiting those peculiar smiles, it’s no wonder that others do not find them attractive. I wouldn’t want to be near this type of explosion either. Like the good knights of Monty Python’s Holy Grail, we should “Run away, run away…” but not with a smile and certainly not with coconuts for a horse trot.

Smiling is healthy. You can change your mood by just smiling and then allowing that feeling to flow over you. (Stibich, 2009) cites ten ways smiling can improve your health including boosting your immune system, lowering your blood pressure, releasing endorphins and changing your mood.
In 1963 Harvey Ball designed the now well-known smiley face (yellow circle with black eyes and mouth, smiling broadly). His foundation, Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation celebrates World Smile Day on October 3rd each year. The mission of the organization is to “Do an act of kindness. Help one person smile.” What would happen if today you smiled at everyone you met? Can you manage a smile at your Ex when you pick up/drop off the kids? Can you smile at the boss first thing in the morning? Can you smile a loving, kind and sincere smile at your life partner when you next meet at home, on the beach, in the grocery store? When you smile, you give another person permission to smile right back at you!

The lyricists John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons (“If You Just Smile”) knew one thing about smiles: they can change your world and your perspective. The music is composed by Charlie Chaplin, the lovable little Tramp. He made us laugh through the magic of the silver screen as one of the most beloved entertainers to bring us diversion through the last great economic crisis this country has ever seen.

“If You Just Smile…”

Words by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons
Music by Charlie Chaplin

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by

If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

Christine Robert is an entrepreneur living in Southern California. She earned her MBA with an emphasis in small business/entrepreneurship from California Lutheran University in 2007 and has a post-graduate certificate in marketing from CLU as well. She is the Chair and one of the co-founders of the Entrepreneur Roundtable in Ventura County. She is an enthusiastic supporter of human rights and freedom of speech. She believes in perpetual transformation and intentionally creating her life. She is a practicing yogini, cyclist and rock climber.


Ansfield, M.A. (2007). Smiling when distressed: when smiling is a frown turned upside down. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33. Retrieved May 7, 2009 from

Corrie, C. (2009). CodePink Alerts, April 10, 2009 Women Say No To War. Retrieved May 8, 2009 from

Obesity, Fitness and Wellness Week (2009). American dental association; survey finds smile is ‘most attractive’ physical feature. February 28, 2009. Retrieved May 7, 2009 from

People (2009). Love that smile! May 11, 2009. Retrieved May 7, 2009 from

Stibich, Ph.D., M. (2009). Top 10 reasons to smile. Longevity. April 26, 2009. Retrieved May 7, 2009 from

World Smile Day Website (2008). Retrieved May 7, 2009 from

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