As a kid, I learned a ton from my parents. Besides the years of teaching me how to be a good person, there was one particular lesson that had a pretty big affect on me. Just like any other little kid, I would get frustrated or pissed off pretty regularly. It was usually over something dumb, and my dad knew it. He would always throw out the perfect line that would change my attitude in an instant, no matter how hard I tried to fight it. “Don’t crack a shiner! Whatever you do, DO NOT crack a shiner!” In other words, “Do not smile! Don’t you dare smile!”
Which, of course, meant that I would immediately smile. Occasionally it took a few times to click, but it worked 100% of the time.
This taught me at an early age that my attitude and mindset could literally change in an instant. Obviously, I didn’t think of it that deeply at the time, but I did see the effect. Unfortunately, it took me 15-20 years after leaving my parent’s care to remember this lesson on my own.
Smiling, or even laughing, when a stressful situation is happening, can have a pretty instant and positive effect. I’m not saying that you should start gut laughing during a meeting about possible layoffs at your company. I’m talking about smiling and thinking about the good stuff in your life while you are driving home from work, despite the fact that you just left an intense meeting that put you in a bad mood.
You can change your mood in one second. Seriously, you can. You have the power to change it. By smiling and letting go, you can change your mood from shitty to happy. Try it!
It is also a great tactic to use when someone else is in a crappy mood or feeling extra stressed. I’ll bust out a stupid joke to lighten the mood, or try to make the person smile. I have the worst puns imaginable, but I can pull out some comedy gold when I need to, and these are the best situations to do so.
So you have a big event coming up and you have to speak? Are you pissed because someone dinged your door in the parking lot? Your dog crapped on the living room floor while you ran to the store? Man, you must be stressed. Do me a favor…
DON’T crack a shiner.