Sunday 22 September 2019

I'm changing the world, one smile at a time

Brendan O'Connor
Brendan O'Connor

It might look as if I took the easy way out in this challenge, but, trust me, this smiling business is harder than you think. First, of course, you have to remember to smile. Generally, it has to be said, I don't. But you know what? The more I do it, the easier it becomes. If I have realised anything in the first week of the smile revolution, it is that it will not all happen at once, but each time I smile, I punch another hole in the gloom, it lets another bit of light in, and soon the room will be flooded with daylight. Maybe.

The problem is that I only remember to smile at the oddest times. Like I am obviously remembering it now. So I am sitting alone smiling at my computer. Which is slightly inappropriate. That's another thing I have learned. It is not always appropriate to smile. So the plan of smiling all the time is just mental. Not that I'm backing down. I'm just refining the plan. And I am trying to put in place building blocks, occasions when I try to remember to smile. Basically, I am trying to associate certain triggers with smiling. So for example, when I say casual hellos to people now I try to smile. I know what you're thinking. Do I not smile anyway when I say casual hellos to people? No, I don't. We are starting from a pretty low base here.

I am also trying to be more smiley when I am in conversation with people. This has mixed results. Some people freak out completely. I was in a meeting with two women the other day and remembered to smile. And one of them looked at me and started shouting at the other one: "Don't look at him. Don't look at him." In general people are feeling quite free to critique my smile. And the critiques are not generally positive. "Call that a smile?" is the general response. The word creepy has been used.

You also make people quite paranoid when you smile at them. There's a lot of "What? What are you smiling about?" Even my kids, with whom I'm generally smiling anyway, are finding this new level of smiling quite freaky.

But I'm going to stick with it. Because I am getting a glimpse of how this could change everything. The smile has reawakened something in me. It transports me back to a time before responsibilities and jobs and kids and being an adult. It takes me back to my true essence, which I now remember is a person who doesn't take things too seriously, who has issues with authority, and who doesn't care too much.

Another interesting side effect of this is that a few people have told me that they have decided to try it too, to smile a bit more, and they are noticing the difference in themselves. I think we could be onto something here. I'm even thinking I might finally write my self-help book, but this time, while it will incorporate aspects of my previous unwritten self-help manuals 'ENBY (Expect nothing, be yourself)' and 'Now!', it will mainly be about smiling.

TIP: We have been told to include a tip this week. You know what mine is. I don't even need to tell you. Join my community of love. SMILE!

Brendan O'Connor

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