RESOLVE TO SMILE MORE

Have you made your New Year’s resolution yet? If you’re like most people, you’ve set some lofty goals for the coming year. Read a book a week. Clean out the garage. Run a 5K. Exercise. Eat more vegetables. Organize your kitchen. But some resolutions are just hard to keep. You start with the best intentions, but you end up breaking them before the end of January.

Why not start 2019 with a resolution to improve your appearance, enhance your mood and make others happier, too: Smile more. Much more.

Smiling requires very little effort (fewer muscles than frowning, according to the old expression). It makes you even more attractive, it makes other people smile, and it’s a chance to show off your pearly whites.

A woman named Jenny smiling in front of a neutral color backdrop at Ortho South Orthodontics

Tips to give you more reasons to smile in 2019:

1. Hang out with kids. They seem to know instinctively how to have fun. Though studies don’t support that old wives’ tale that children laugh more than adults, they do show that kids spend more time being deliberately funny. And let’s be honest—the things five-year-olds find funny can be pretty hilarious to adults, too: slapstick, silly jokes, funny faces. Just good, old-fashioned fun.

2. Give back. Not much makes us feel better than doing something nice for someone else. Whether that’s volunteering at a soup kitchen or at the local humane society, find something that engages you and dive in. Volunteering is a great way to share your skills and talents—or develop some new ones. Donate your services in marketing or accounting, donate your time boxing canned goods at a food bank, or make a monetary donation. No matter how you do it, giving back just feels good.

3. Take a trip down memory lane. Looking at old pictures—the hair, those clothes—can be entertaining all by itself. But when those photos bring back fond memories, it can be even better. Spend time with old friends or family members you don’t see often enough to reminisce and share favorite stories.

4. Watch a favorite comedy. It doesn’t matter if it’s an old Marx Brothers classic like Duck Soup or a recent favorite like The Hangover. If it makes you belly-laugh, watch it. Or binge-watch your favorite comedy TV series for a whole day of smiles and a good core workout.

5. Pet more dogs. Or cats. Or gerbils. Spending time basking in the unconditional love of an animal is bound to lift your mood and make you smile. It doesn’t even have to be yours. If you don’t have a pet—or a friend with a pet—consider visiting a local animal shelter. They’re always looking for people to spend time with shelter animals or even foster them at home while they wait for a forever home.

6. Treat yourself. Schedule some time to pamper yourself with a mani/pedi or a relaxing massage. Or just take an hour or so to sip a cup of oolong tea and enjoy a good book. Making time to do something you genuinely enjoy—no matter what it is—will make you more relaxed and more productive and probably make you smile, too.

7. Treat someone else. Much like volunteering, making someone else happy makes us happy. Take your mom out to lunch or bring donuts for the office. Let someone merge ahead of you in traffic. Or let that man with three items go ahead of you in the check-out line. Buy coffee for the car behind you at Starbucks anonymously. Or pay the bill for the firefighters dining at the table next to you. You’ll no doubt make them smile, but you’ll definitely be grinning a little bit, too.

8. Spend less time on social media. If you’re like most people, you spend a significant amount of your day checking in on Instagram or Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. No matter which channel is your guilty pleasure, resolve to cut back a little. Even if you avoid confrontational or bad news, you may still find yourself comparing the worst of your own life to the best of others. Set your phone down and take a walk outside or visit a friend. You’ll definitely smile more.

9. Follow positive media posts. If you want to stay in touch with the world through social media but you’re looking for a reason to smile, consider changing your feed a little. Start following Cats of Instagram or Beaches N Resorts—whatever brings you joy and makes the corners of your mouth curl up, even if just a little. Follow your favorite comedian on Twitter. Conversely, consider un-following news feeds if they’re too intense, or drop that Facebook friend who’s always bringing you down.

10. Choose joy. Joy can be found even in the toughest of times. As Kay Warren said, “Joy is deeper than happiness, lasts longer than excitement and is more satisfying than pleasure and thrills. Joy is richer. Fuller.” Where there is joy, a smile is surely nearby.

One of the best reasons to smile is the simplest: it’s contagious. A warm, confident smile makes other people relax and smile back. But if you want to spend more time smiling in 2019, you need to be confident that your smile projects the confidence you feel.

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