Smile on demand

You’ve seen a fake smile before. People try to fake it but there’s something not quite right about it. This isn’t about faking a smile. There are other places you can learn from but beware, they can be hazardous. I intend to share something better: How to genuinely smile, defuse a situation, and relax.

I call it the naked dancer. Whatever variation someone else uses can be the name. The name is largely meaningless, but fitting for me. When I need the smile, I picture myself dancing naked, holding a hairbrush like a microphone, singing my heart out, and just being generally embarrassing. It’s that simple. Even knowing I’m the only one who sees it, it brings a  smile to my face like I’m the only one in on a joke. At the moment when you’re angry or frustrated, stressed out, or about to approach some girl (or guy), walking into an interview, or any situation when you need a genuine and rich smile, just do it and go with the flow.

Now I know this isn’t the best for everyone. You’ve been told that when public speaking you should imagine everyone with underwear on their heads. Good luck with that. That doesn’t even make sense. You have to imagine something that brings genuine pleasure to see (if not to do). Perhaps you have a friend known to do humiliating things to entertain everyone. Maybe there’s a scene from Family Guy that awakens the lulz in you every time. I know this sounds like a cop out. I’m in essence saying, think of something funny, but I can’t overstate the power of this. I prefer to keep it personal, that’s why I picture myself completely naked, gyrating and violently hip thrusting to some ridiculous song, the look of effort on my imaginary face as I’m belting out the tune at the top of my lungs, my schlong flopping about. To the people right in front of me I just have the biggest most infectious grin on my face.

With this technique, I break into a smile immediately. This works well for me because I’m actually a touch shy, a bit coy and easily get embarrassed even when I’m alone. In my case I sing along and dance to “Wanna be starting something” by Michael Jackson whenever it comes on. So that’s often the song my naked avatar is singing and dancing to. It has to be something that makes you smile against your will when you do it in real life. Try doing a ridiculous dance in front of the mirror while completely naked and maintain eye contact with yourself. Try to stay serious and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

When I get nervous, when I’m stressed or angry you’ll see me suddenly beaming a confident smile. So now you know why I’m smiling. I’m smiling because, in my head, I’m dancing naked… and it looks ridiculous. Really, you have no idea how hard it is to focus on whatever you’re doing to frustrate me when I can see myself dancing without a care behind you and without clothes on.

It works like a charm if you have to give a presentation and you’re the scared public speaker type. Forget everyone with underwear on their heads. Everyone is staring intently at you and you’re trying not to crack up because if they could just turn their heads for a moment they might catch you doing the cabbage patch/electric slide/worm/pelvic thrusts/macarena butt-naked in the back of the room. And knowing only you can see it only makes it sillier. All they see is you in front of the class/venue beaming, excited and happy. And let me tell you, the cheer and energy is infectious.

I try not to use this technique when approaching most authority figures because solemnity is usually preferred in those situations. When out and about, before approaching a lady, it’s this process that’s going on in my head. It puts me in a playful mood, and no matter the situation, I’m able to shrug of the fear of public embarrassment (at rejection, not acting foolish). This isn’t foolproof and the process doesn’t require a naked dancer, as stated earlier. The principle is genuine joy. In my case, I choose embarrassing images because i smile when embarrassed. If all else fails and you absolutely must fake a smile, just remember one thing, the key to a genuine smile is in the eyes. If you make a grin, make sure to engage your eyes as well (same muscles you use when the sun is in your eyes or when you grimace. Engaging the muscles around your eyes while emulating your best smile should do the trick. Also, don’t linger. Real smiles are more like micro-expressions. They come in flashes and repeat, they don’t stay static.

If all that fails, just picture this:

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