We all know what a difference a smile makes. We’d much rather deal with a smiling customer service agent than a scowling one. Smiling at our children, our spouse, or our friends and getting a smile back makes both parties feel good. And have you ever been smiled at by a baby? What a great feeling that is!

But I have noticed something about smiling this week that makes a huge difference in me.

Smiling when I don’t feel like it.

Smiling when no one is going to see it.

I noticed it most recently on my runs this week. We run early in the morning. The sun isn’t up and it is cold. And some days are easier than others. But every time I would start to feel discouraged, I would choose to smile, and when I did, instead of the thoughts of, “I can’t do this, I am so tired, my legs are so cold,” (and on and on and on), my thoughts switched to, “you’ve got this, this hill is nothing, you feel great, you are keeping a good pace, your breathing is perfect, you only have X more miles to go.” And no one saw me smile. There was no inward thing making me smile. It was simply a choice to smile.

Then at work one morning I was talking with a co-worker about a less-than-ideal situation and before she left my office, I told her I was just going to smile even though I didn’t feel like it. And you know what, it made a change in my attitude about the situation.

Then last night, as I was cleaning up my disaster of a house that was created by the other people who live in my house and not me, I could feel myself getting frustrated about it. But instead of getting angry and muttering under my breath (or out loud, they were gone, they wouldn’t have heard me), I chose to smile instead. And guess what? That’s right, no more angry thoughts, no more frustration. My attitude was changed.

We often talk about how smiles are powerful when we give them to others and that is true, but I think sometimes we discount how powerful they can be for ourselves. Just choosing to smile when you don’t feel like it. Choosing to smile when your attitude needs changing. Choosing to smile when it feels like screaming at the top of your lungs would feel better.

So, no matter what is going on in your life today, I challenge you to smile through it. Not a fake smile or a forced one, but a genuine, attitude-changing, smile. Let me know how it works!

Have you ever noticed this before?