When you are smiling, the whole world smiles with you, are words made famous by Louis Armstrong and Dean Martin during last century and indeed they bring sound advice! Do you smile enough in your day? Are there times or periods where you go without smiling? I hope not.
For me, a smile is important. It can be something you can give to someone else. You can also receive a smile and send it back. Watch a room when one person genuinely smiles and means it. People start smiling, then laughing and feeling positive and enjoying themselves. Do you feel sad when you smile genuinely? Not at all. You feel happy, you feel better or at least less sad than you did a moment a go.
In my work as a Trainer, I try to make people smile a lot. I tell jokes, I dance and act about to make people see a point or I act out a scene to bring home the message, but I always try to do so with a smile. To be able to show people, that it's OK. For me, learning cannot take place in an environment full of tension or negativity. Learning a second language as an adult can be a tremendously stressful thing as we bring with us negativity and issues about our intelligence, our abilities and feel a sense of helplessness sometimes. Having been on both sides of that scenario as a student and as a Trainer, reminds me that smiles, a few laughs and some easy going moments can really help.
I once did a German course here in Vienna, where there was less (or no) smiling. The Trainer didn't enjoy his job and we felt like a complete burden to him. Everything was wrong. Just wrong, wrong, wrong. I had to leave the course, as I didn't feel like dragging my self-esteem into the mud where the Trainer was taking it. I needed to find another way. It reminded me for my own training of learners to make others smile. To encourage, delight and to give them confidence. A smiling confidence goes a long way. I find when people smile and are positive, their language skills improve, their brains become free and in time they learn more and in a better way.
I have never met an ugly person when they smile! God gave everyone a beautiful smile. So use it. Give it away to others who need it. Perhaps you are the only person who smiles at the cashier all day. It make their life a little easier. We don't know what effect our smile might bring, but it will make a difference. Be the smiler.
In the book, You Can, by George Matthews Adams, his chapter called 'Smile' suggests "Smiles are the headlights of success. And they always point the way that wins the day." Like a direction in sense. A smile points the way. To where? Success here is not measured by money or status or making a deal or anything else, but by perhaps making a difference in your day and in someone else's.
Smiles are free. How do you use them? I aim to give them out more often, to spread them in places where people least expect them. To be genuinely giving them away. Start with those around you. Family, work colleagues, friends, and those in your local neighbourhood. Before long, you will be smiling at everyone, brightening days and making yourself feel better too. So be selfish, and smile!
Would others describe you as enthusiastic? Do you get out of bed ready to jump into your favourite activity? What activities and topics do you have enthusiasm for? Or are you sluggish but once you get started things start to get better for you?
Enthusiasm is something that comes and goes. Often we think if we are not initially enthusiastic about something, then we shouldn't do that activity but in my experience, we need to remember that enthusiasm comes and goes. An activity can begin as boring but as we do it more, enthusiasm increases. This used to happen to me when I was younger. I worked in my families plant nursery and the work was often tedious and repetitive. Instead of become more bored with the activity I started to gamify it. I explored how many trays of plants I could fill in the quickest time. Could I work faster than the person working next to me? Was it possible to improve the process? I would try some aspects in a different order and see what worked better. Eventually I had perfected my process and was happy with my speed, output and ideas. Being paid by the hour, there was no incentive to be faster but rather an internal one. It was during this job that I realised how important it was to be enthusiastic and to find ways to make meaning in the smallest things. To have fun and learn on the job. Otherwise the alternative was to really dislike the work, put in less and get less out of the experience.
Since those years of summer, weekend and holiday work I have used this understanding of my learning style in many of my jobs and situations in life. When we have more excitement and interest in something, our enthusiasm grows. Excitement grows when we do something well. The reward of the activity itself often brings about more enthusiasm for it. Our skills increase and we gain more enjoyment, fuelling the excitement and enthusiasm.
It also works in reverse. Sometimes we are enthusiastic about something only to discover that it is not what we expect. Our enthusiasm wanes as time passes. If we aren't careful this can happen quickly. This is also natural, so don't be hard on yourself when things do change. Change is a natural part of our life and things do not last forever. Change is ok and you are allowed to make new choices.
So is enthusiasm turned on and off at will? I don't know the full answer to this question but do feel like it can be quick. There is an element of choice in it, like most activities. So what do you choose? I prefer to be enthusiastic. To be positive and to be open and teachable. This allows the enthusiasm to come in. When it does I know to receive it as a gift as it won't always be there.
In my podcast, the Cottage Conversations, I have explored Enthusiasm from the perspective of George Matthews Adams, from his book You Can, and he says enthusiasm is the combination of Heart, Head and Determination. It is when these three elements come together at the same spot, for the same amount of time and purpose that things start and move towards progress.
Heart in it, head in it and the determination to grow and change. This parallels personal growth in many ways. We need to have the right structure and plan for growth (Head), we need to want to do it (Heart) and we need to stick with it (Determination). Determination could be a real key here. How much do you want it? When we do want things enough, we find a way. We face adversity and failure and eventually know things will turn around. We put in the hours required, doing the work people neither want to do or see as important. The boring work can be gamified as I said earlier in this post. Make the boring somewhat interesting and your determination increases.
So let enthusiasm in, recognise it and become friends with it when it is with you! Become aware of when it comes and when it goes. It will change and be ok with that.
Would you describe yourself as honest? Do others describe you as honest?
What about an honest days work? Can you say honestly that you put one in?
Are you honest with yourself? Or do you sometimes lie to YOU?
I was discussing a project with a colleague this week who mentioned the term 'radical honesty' as he had attended a workshop on the topic. A quick google search tells me that this is a concept, which has been researched and developed by Brad Blanton Ph.D, which seeks allow people to develop deeper connections by not lying, by speaking what is on your mind, out loud as a way to reduce stress. Think about it. When we are holding on to a lie, what does this do to our body? It creates stress. We cannot relax. We think we do, but really we don't. When you do lie, how do you feel afterwards?
The term got me thinking about honesty and what it means to me. Billy Joel's song titled 'Honesty' came to my mind especially the lyrics
'Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you.'
Why are we dishonest? Especially to ourselves. The lyrics above work for someone else, but the last line can also work for you. From you to You. So what if you were honest with You? How could your life change?
Perhaps for a moment, you will experience less stress. You might be ok with you being you. We all absorb and consume social media which brings up comparisons, dreams, ideas and aspirations. Many are well meaning, but how do they serve us. What do they give us?
The John C. Maxwell Law I am reading about at the moment, calls for a moment of reflection. In each day, each week, month and for a short time each year. These are the moments to be honest with yourself. Are you doing the work, taking the action, having enough sleep and getting things done. We only have limited time and we need to be honest, use it wisely and sometimes get on with it.
Easier said than often done. Perhaps things get in the way, we don't feel like it and then there are all the things - addictions and distractions that become more appealing which are not helping up towards anything.
Get honest. With yourself. Honour yourself and the life you are here to lead. We all face choices and make decisions, so start with being honest with yourself. If you don't like your job and live for the weekend, change something. Perhaps leaving your job is not where to start but you can become aware and this forms honesty. It allows you to see things as they are and make steps towards change.
From there you can be honest with others. And this is where the magic happens. Go for it.
David Corcoran is a Personal Development Trainer who specialises in Voice and a professional Opera Singer. This Blog contains his regular musings, thoughts and ideas. He is based in Vienna, Austria.