This was simply the most difficult assignment I’ve ever had to complete. I have always been a proponent of displaying genuine emotion. And for the past 3 years or so, I have attempted to say most candidly how I feel regardless of who asks, with the belief that life is too predictable if you pretend as though happenings in your life don’t have an affect on you. For this reason, I found it difficult to smile when I wasn’t feeling happy, and even when I did feel happy I rarely considered its degree “smile-at-stranger worthy”. Another downfall was that I found it difficult to remember to smile at each person I say throughout the day, so instead I tried to adapt a new default mode for my mouth which was closer to a grin and I would otherwise act the same.
Because the most I could muster (as even this was stepping out of my comfort zone) was a faint grin, every stranger I encountered responded by either imitating my action and avoiding eye contact, or avoiding eye contact from the start. The majority of those I encountered didn’t look at me for long enough to be recognize my smile (or, indistinguishably, they preferred to ignore my socially unusual behavior and avert their attention).
Due to the fact that happy people smile more often during social interactions (happiness: a revolution in economics), my friends and acquaintances were more receptive of my presence and seemed more engaged. I found that throughout the day I felt slightly happier than I usually do which corroborates the discovery that smiling has a positive affect on mood.