THE BLOG
04/10/2014 01:45 pm ET Updated Jun 10, 2014

Smile Through It!

"Smile, it's free therapy"-Douglas Horton
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Smiling is a part of my life. Those that know me, know it's my truth. As a consultant and general observer in life, the reality of the need for more smiles has set in. Indulge me in my little blurb to make a case for smiling in everyday life. A smile has the power to change someone's world and yours.

I have always known smiles are powerful and generally make life better, yet this week in yoga the concept hit home. The instructor put us all in a VERY long boat pose, a pose I have always struggled with. She cheered on the class as we held the difficult pose, and then added the challenge of "smiling through it." She went on to say, "smile through the discomfort...through the challenge...smile with your strength." One big grin later and that pose became A LOT more doable, tolerable, and achievable to hold. Amazing!

The reality is that smiling not only helps you, it helps others! So really I hope you will give it a try if not part of your common practice already. In the Wall Street Journal, Marco Iacoboni, a lab director at the UCLA Brain Mapping Center, says, "When people see a smile, so-called mirror neurons fire in their brain and evoke a similar neural response as if they were smiling themselves."

We spend hours stressed at work or with life's challenges, imagine the power in taking a simple second to "smile through it." It would give a sense of calm and uplift to not only ourselves but those around us.

Smiling can get mixed reviews no doubt. As I have written in the past, in my career I have been encouraged not to smile so much by a previous boss, as he felt I wouldn't be taken as seriously by clients. Crazy, I know. I tried out his advice for a bit and felt I was losing a part of myself, and that key piece of authenticity that makes me who I am. Needless to say, I reverted back to smiling. On the flip side, there are the other instances when you show up day to day to a place maybe lacking smiles, and guess what, you will be complemented and appreciated for yours! Deep down humans appreciate happiness and good feelings, just as negativity can spread quickly, so can positivity.

That positivity and uplift can start with you. Think of the next time you and your team are working through some tough challenges, you have the option to make it doom and gloom, or you have the option to build in some optimism and make that challenge seem achievable. A call out to leaders in organizations, there is that thing called "visible leadership," -- yes smiles apply to you too! There is nothing worse than having a leader that walks the hallways head down or on his/her phone buried in their own stress of the day and oblivious to the team around them. We all know great work comes from our team and most of us can't do it alone, thus engaging with our team and showing physical signs of optimism to keep spirits and moral high is extremely important.

On the most basic human level, a smile has an impact, and it might be larger than you could ever imagine. There are the cases when you offer a smile to a homeless person on the street when most people look away, that smile and the one you got back from them goes a long way. A person you might come across may be going through some very tough personal circumstances and your smile might give them a glimmer of hope that life is still good and hope is near.

When I went to visit a Congolese Refugee Settlement supported by International Medical Corps back in 2009, as much as the stories and tears of the survivors had an impact on me, so did their smiles. I met women and children that had experienced some of the most horrific and traumatizing violence one could imagine; some stripped of their womanhood, partner, children, parents, and homes. Regardless of all they had been through, they were still able to share a hug, a smile, and in some cases, a dance and call me their sister. Their ability to smile despite the odds is something that serves as a day to day inspiration. I wish they could know that.

Your smile has power and the ability to inspire. Go on now. Show me that grin.

To make a difference in the lives of women in Congo visit here.

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Smiling big on top of South America