Regular readers may recall that a couple of weeks ago I posted an exhortation to be positive and smile. I mentioned a notice that is posted at the wonderful store of Housing Units (www.housingunits.co.uk) here in Manchester that says:
“If someone doesn’t give you a smile, give them one of yours”.
A couple of hours later my dear friend, Harold Woodward in Yorkshire sent me the lyrics of the old song: “When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you”.
That evening I was listening to BBC Radio 2 and, lo and behold, they played a song by Harry Konick Jnr called “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile”.
It was a day of synchronicity.
There was quite some response to the blog and it occurred to me that there must be more instances of smiles being the subject of other song lyrics. I was right.
Popular music lyricists have always had their collective finger on the pulse of the public and especially during difficult times, they have managed to brighten lives with cheerful and positive lyrics to cheerful and positive music.
Among many, the World War 1 song, “Pack Up Your Troubles (in your old kit bag and smile, smile smile) was almost diametrically opposed to the actuality of that appalling conflict but nevertheless the song was one of the most popular of its time presumably on the basis of This Too Will Pass.
Another rather gloomy epic was “Smile though your heart is breaking”, a further instance of recommending a smile to chase away sadness.
My favourite country group of the 1970s, the Dutch trio Pussycat, sang about remembering love that has gone away in their record of Smile and there are many others.
A dictionary definition of the word Smile is:
“Forming the features into a pleased, kind, or amused expression, typically with the corners of the mouth turned up and the front teeth exposed”.
For such a definition it is surprising to realise that the word Smile can bear a multiplicity of modifying adjectives such as cheerful, beaming, expressive, charming, warm, soulful, and at the other end of the scale, sad and grim.
Overall however, the main thrust is that of exhibiting a positive outlook and one that encourages others to follow suit because smiles can be catching.
During this awful January I have been catching up with one or two audiobooks, in particular The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, that has been a favourite of mine since childhood.
Throughout the book whenever Mr Pickwick lapses into annoyance, anger and rage at some supposed slight, following a comment by his faithful servant, Sam Weller, he allows a smile to suffuse his face and the anger dissipates.
My Vistage CEO peer group is extremely adept at scotching too much seriousness with a comment that brings on a smile and often defuses a complex situation.
The fact is that the very act of smiling can change the atmosphere in a difficult discussion or conversation and lightens the whole scene. In essence it indicates positivity and can soften anger.
Mr Pickwick had the right approach. He was sensible enough to realise that anger is a useless emotion said to be like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. The fact is that a smile can and does dissipate negative emotions.
Boxing the chimp in our minds can be achieved in many ways and a distinct change to positivity is one of them.
Trying to smile whenever one feels anger or irritation can change one’s feelings quite dramatically. Give it a try and encourage your people to try. You may be surprised at the result.
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