Everyday Miracles: The Effects of Smiling on Purpose

Take the smile test!

By Genevieve Schmitt, Editor

Everyday Miracles is a very personal column for readers who want to explore the deeper meaning of life.

At some point in our lives—if we’re introspective enough, or if we desire change in our lives—we’ll take stock of our past and present so as to affect our future. I’ve been engaging in this exercise in small, manageable doses all my life, but never more than now, since hitting the milestone age of 50 in March.

For me, the half-century mark been a great reason to stop, assess where I am, learn and share. When I do this, an everyday miracle takes place: the miracle of seeing myself in another light, perhaps as others may see me.

Why is this an everyday miracle? Because the “aha” moment this action produces hopefully will move you in a new direction, a better direction. And that is worth celebrating!

Looking back over the last 10 years, I’ve come up with at least six things I’d tell my younger self. In six months, I may have six more things, but for now this is what I know to be true. Here’s the first one. I had planned to list them all here in this one article, but in writing this first one, I realized each one alone is worth elaborating on. So more will come in later posts.

Smile More
Looking back at the few photos people have taken of me from afar, while I wasn’t aware they were doing it, when I was working publically in the field as a TV producer and reporter, and later as a magazine journalist, my facial expression was always pensive. I was always working hard, and thinking about it. I was always “inside” my head.

I never thought much about how I looked to people until my husband, early on in our relationship, caught me off guard by asking me, “Why are you scowling?” I’d respond, “I’m not scowling. I’m thinking.” That triggered memories of random people coming up to me at motorcycle events every now and then that I was covering saying, “Smile.” You don’t say that to someone who is smiling.

I realized that my default facial expression was a frown. Egad! How did that happen? Well, I’ll spare you the details of my upbringing and why I believe the smile I was born with morphed into a frown, but it had something to do with being the oldest of five children and never getting my way, or feeling like I was always being put out.

Everyday Miracles the Effects of Smiling on Purpose Genevieve Schmitt family
Here is 9-year-old me (far left child) with my family at Easter in 1973. Everyone’s smiling but me! I believe I was “upset” because I was “forced” to wear the matching outfits that my mother made for us. The non-conformist I’d later grow up to be was beginning to take shape. It was either that, or some other “bee in my bonnet” that was ruining my day.

Looking back I remembered that unless someone said “smile for the camera” I was in my head most of the time and my head thoughts rendered a straight, pensive expression to the world. Someone once described me as serious. I remember that description surprising me.

But you say, “I can’t smile if there’s nothing to smile about or if I don’t feel happy or joyful.”

Then force a smile.

Take the Smile Test!
A smile is the first step toward changing one’s attitude. A few years ago I tested this theory. I started smiling on purpose, every time I was out in public—walking down a sidewalk, walking into a convenience store to use the bathroom, pumping gas, walking into a coffee shop, browsing a flea market; even riding my motorcycle!


Nearly everyone I engaged with smiled back at me. And if they didn’t, I maintained my smiley disposition and watched them go from being straight faced to chipper; maybe not full-on smiley, but my smile definitely helped move them out of their straight, drone facial expression.

Everyday Miracles Effects of Smiling on Purpose Genevieve Schmitt
Smiles come easily when I’m on my motorcycle.

I also discovered that having a smile on my face changed the disposition of my heart. So, for example, if I was feeling gloomy in my heart for no reason (which sometimes happens when its really overcast and cloudy outside, or some other seemingly artificial reason), the smile I forced across my face would eventually help the gloominess in my heart and mind disappear. And then when the gloominess disappears, I’m able to get back to counting blessings instead of burdens.

Try it right now. Smile. Go ahead. Squinch, yes, squinch (that’s my word) your cheeks so the corners of your lips upturn toward your ears. Open your lips. Not just a bit. A lot. Holding your lips together takes effort in a smile. Crack open those lips! Show some teeth!

Then exhale; let the hot, stuffy air out!


You’ve probably heard the expression that it takes more facial muscles to make a frown than a smile. This is an old wives’ tale and not true, according to researchers who actually counted the number of facial muscles to do both. Regardless, the heart effect is reason enough for me to smile when I don’t feel like it.

In the time I’ve been smiling on purpose, another everyday miracle has occurred. My forced smile turned into a real one, with no effort. I’m full of joy more often. The labored smile eventually morphs into a real smile, which then produces joy—which then produces gratitude, which then produces contentment and peace. And you know how I’ve proved this?

Well, for one, I feel more joyful and at peace. I don’t sweat the small stuff as often. My glass is now half full instead of half empty. It takes multiple days of no-sun before even a tinge of gloominess starts to creep in. And now, I can nip that gloomy feeling in the bud with a forced smile.

Additionally, out of the blue, people on Facebook—some I know and some I don’t—have privately messaged me to let me know that I seem so happy in my photos. One long-time friend from high school, whom I dont connect with often, surprised me with this: “Great to see the joy in your face in every photo.”

I guess it’s showing now—genuinely!

Heres a link to my next Everyday Miracles listing the next five things Id tell my younger self

Now share your thoughts on smiling, joy and whatever else moves your heart in the comments below.

And if you want to know when I post another Everyday Miracles column, including more things Id tell my younger self, sign up to receive a personal email from me each time ones posted.

Want to know when I post a new Everyday Miracles story? Send an email togschmitt@womenridersnow.comletting me know you want to be added to my Everyday Miracles mailing list.

Want to read past columns? Click here.

About the Author

Genevieve Schmitt is the founder WomenRidersNow.com. She was raised in a strict Catholic household, but in college the journalist in her starting asking questions of organized religion. By age 30 she developed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and since then works daily to surrender her stubborn will and vain ego to allow the Holy Spirit to guide her life. She now considers herself a non-denominational Christian. In the summer of 2014, with guidance from God, she started expressing her faith journey in this column, Everyday Miracles. Feedback from WRN readers has been overwhelming positive proving that people crave so much more.

9 thoughts on Everyday Miracles: The Effects of Smiling on Purpose

  1. I am just now finding your column of Everyday Miracles and after reading this one I can’t help but ask, you mentioned six things, did you ever write about the other five?

  2. So, reading this article, of course I began to smile. My 8-year-old son asked why I was smiling, and I responded that I was reading something that made me smile. Then I asked him and his 9-year-old brother if I smile that rarely, and they both immediately said, yes! I’m generally an easy-going person, and thought I smiled quite a bit, but if my kids don’t see it, apparently I need to smile more! Thanks for the excellent reminder!

  3. Thank you Genevieve for this reminder to smile. I’m not a natural smiler and to do so many a time takes purposeful action on my part. I do have a lot to smile about though, like my Saviour, family, friends, ministry and of course, motorcycles and flushing toilets! My everyday miracle is being able to be thankful, and smile while daily facing my heartaches, and no longer being able to ride my blues away on my baby Ninja (sold it a year ago yet still active with AMM) but hey! tomorrow is another day with much hope and many smiles. For now I smile at the thought of WRN, what a great website it is. Impressive. Thank you ladies for all your contributions, hard work and your passion for the open road. Be safe! Abundant Blessings and Righteous Riding!

  4. Genevieve, I can’t wait to read about the other five! Like you, I’ve always frowned when thinking—people have commented—and when I turned 50 last year I decided to pursue a life I loved. I kicked my 28-year career out the door (yikes!) and bet my future on something for which I have a passion (yikes!). But I’ve never felt more at ease with my life, and look forward to “chapter two.”Ride on, Wind Sister!Leslie

  5. This reminded me of an episode of The Middle where Sue Heck tries to prove that smiling is contagious. She says, “Think of the smiles over the years that have inspired a whole world to happiness: Mona Lisa’s, Justin Bieber’s. Some might laugh at me, I know, just as they laughed at John Gurdon. He was told in high school that he would never be a scientist. He just won the Nobel Prize [in 2012]. I guess it just proves that being dismissed by people who think they know better is not an obstacle to winning a Nobel Prize. So I will continue with my research, one smile at a time, until I prove that smiling is contagious, “cause I don’t want to live in a world where it isn’t.” I’m smiling right now as I type this!

  6. Hi Genevieve! This is a great Everyday Miracle testimony, one that I put into practice all the time too. I agree with everything you stated as I see the effects of smiling in my daily life. I am a hairdresser and often take on people’s doom and gloom. I choose to remain positive, though difficult at times, which mostly results in my guests’ change of attitude! It’s my mission to remain joyful in all things! Of course, riding my motorcycle is one thing that I don’t have to force a smile doing, it just happens…people have smiled back at me while on the road touring! My heart is filled with so much joy when they smile back! Thanks for this.

    1. Thanks for your feedback Caroline. It brings joy to me to read your comments. And I’m smiling now too!

  7. You are so right about smiling. My husband (who passed away six months ago) always had a smile on his face. He was always happy. Everyone around him reacted to his friendliness. I’ve found that if you smile at people and say thank you, how are you, etc. that most people will respond the same way. Thanks for your “Everyday Miracles.” I love reading them. Keep ’em coming.

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