How To Smile for Real



“If you see a friend without a smile; give him one of yours.” – Proverb

Have you ever seen a fake smile and wondered what was off?  Something was off, and it was in the eyes … “their eyes weren’t smiling.”

When you see a smile that’s contagious and it lights up the room, it’s because the eyes are smiling too.

In the book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions , Guy Kawasaki writes about genuine smiles and the art of making a great smile.

Think Pleasant Thoughts
The key to a good smile is, to think pleasent thoughts.  After all, the eyes are the window to the soul.  Guy writes:

“The key to a great George Clooneyesque smile is to think pleasant thoughts.  If you’re grumpy inside, it’s hard to have a smile that lights up the room.”

Fake Smiles Don’t Use the Eyes
Fake smiles don’t use the muscles around your eyes.  Guy writes:

“A fake smile uses only the zygomatic majory muscle — the one that runs from your jaw to the corner of your mouth.  It’s easy to control this muscle, so it leads to fake or what was called ‘Pan American smiles’.”

Make Crows Feet to Make a Great Smile
To make a great smile that lights up the room, Guy shares a tip — make crows feet.  Guy writes:

“A great smile uses the orbicularis oculi muscle, too. This muscle surrounds your eyes, and it makes you squint and produce crow’s feet.  A real smile is so special that it has its own name:  the Duchenne smile, in honor of Guillame Duchenne, a French nuerologist.”

So if you want to smile for real, and have a great smile, think happy thoughts and make those crows feet.

Photo by whologwhy.


  1. There is nothing like receiving a genuine smile. It’s make you tingle with warmth and really feel good. So if you like feeling good and connecting with people bring your smile to the game.

  2. Hi J.D.,

    This is wonderful, nothing beats a great smile – if you are having a bad day and get a real smile from someone, it really does give you a lift. I often smile at strangers in the street – while the odd one looks at me as if I am a loon, the majority smile back and we both go on, a little happier and more connected than before.
    And regarding the crows feet……when I hit 30 I started to become a little concerned about mine, took me a while to realise that they were a great thing – they simply meant I was happy:)

  3. Smiles really matter. Love this post and this message. It really is amazing how a genuine smile can instantly raise our positive energy level and improve our mindset.

  4. If there’s one thing I tell people all the time to work on is smiling. For interacting with other people, it makes the biggest difference. Smiles are contagious, think about how you feel when you meet someone who’s got a big genuine grin on. It’s hard to stay mopey when you’re looking at that.

    Also, a good tip I’ve found is to just force yourself to smile more. Your mind is linked directly into your body, so even if you fake a smile, you start to become more happy. At first it might feel weird but over time it feels more natural until it becomes you.

  5. @ Riley — Some people really have a knack for smiling, and, you’re right, it’s “genuine” that tingles.

    @ Alik — Test-driven too 😉

    @ Kate — I’ve noticed that genunine smiles are a great way to disarm, especially when seeing people on the street. It’s a way to quickly take away the threat, and potentially make somebody’s day.

    Ah, the true grooves of happiness 🙂

    @ Sibyl — I agree, and anything that helps shift our mindset into positive gear, is a powerful thing, with a bunch of cascading benefits.

    @ Nick — I like the fake it until you make it approach, and thinking positive thoughts is a great way to grease the skids.

  6. So true, JD. We can all sense a fake smile from a mile away. It just goes to show that expressing ourselves authentically is an innate urge that cannot be denied. Our own authentic expression is as natural as the sun wanting to shine.

  7. Smile for real is the deal JD. We all can tell a faker but also we can intuitively sense a happy soul simply expressing their joy. Get happy, think happy, feel happy, and smiles will break out all over your face, your body and your whole life. Love the vibe JD, love the vibe.

  8. @ Rob — “as natural as the sun wanting to shine” … now THAT is poetry in motion.

    I hear Get Happy, and I think of that song by The Partridge Family 😉

    @ John — I like that you pointed out “intuitively sense.” For the longest time, I always wondered why some smiles were off. Eventually the phrase, “the eyes don’t smile” clued me in, and then when Guy pointed out which muscles make it or break it, that sealed the deal.

    I find my intuition often serves me well, long before my conscious mind catches up, or explains it.

  9. JD,

    Thanks for sharing. I have always wondered why some people when they smile just don’t look geniune. Now it all makes sense. You can’t fake a smile and not get away with it. Smiling requires a lot more than just your mouth. It is a state not just an act. Thanks for the insight.

  10. HI JD .. absolutely smile with your eyes and make eye contact .. and laugh too as you do it … opens the whole thing up a little … cheers Hilary

  11. @ Hilary — Some people have shining eyes to go with their brilliant smiles. If eyes are the key to smiles, I think heart is the key to laughs.

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