Picture yourself as a superhero with the extraordinary power to lift the spirits of those around you.
As that superhero, do you see yourself using your power liberally or sparingly? Would you lift the spirits of only those you know and love or would you lift the spirits of everyone within range?
Personally, if I had such power, I’d like to think I would try to use it all the time, in all situations and with everyone. I would not enjoy picturing myself keeping such an ability under lock and key.
The truth is, however, we all have this gift and are sometimes frugal with its use. It’s a built-in superpower that costs nothing, requires little or no effort, needs no electricity, and is always at the ready. It’s such a widespread power that we even have a name for it: The Smile.
You see, we humans are an empathetic bunch. We are wired so that the neurons which cause a specific emotional state, fire in our own brains when we witness that state in another. When someone around you is happy, you feel that happiness. When a country suffers a terrible disaster, we all feel the pain. When we overhear someone giggling while reading a book, we can’t help but giggle ourselves even before we’re given the humorous details.
Every day of our lives, we have the power to contribute to the happiness of others simply by smiling at them. Being empathetically wired, the targets of our smiles have no choice but to experience a boost of spirit.
Armed with those higher spirits, the persons to whom we gift smiles may be inclined to smile at others. Those in turn might smile at yet more. Soon, an entire population could be infected with good mood spread solely by empathy.
I’m suggesting that today, we all practice using our innate power to boost the spirits of those around us. Smile at someone and watch, with a knowing twinkle in your eye, how easily you cause a sympathetic vibration to rumble through that person’s neural net. With practice, we might all take to boosting spirits regularly.
If you’re shy about using or unaccustomed to wielding your superpower willy-nilly, then just try this: Count the number of smiles you see today. It doesn’t matter if they are directed at you, at someone else or just painted on the face of someone enjoying “a moment.” Simply note them. Hopefully you’ll find many, but even if you witness only one, you’ll feel the empathic pulse that triggers a boost in your own emotional state.
It’s a small gesture with big rewards. Go be a superhero =)