Ready for more contagious positivity in your inbox? Subscribe now and never have FOMO again.

*Mandatory field
Blog Categories

Bounce Forward with a Smile

“Turkish Airlines flight TK 209 to Istanbul is delayed by an hour and a half” said the announcer at the lounge. “Don’t worry, you will make it to your connecting flight” said the purser as I boarded. Upon landing, I sprinted nearly three kilometers to the gate, only to witness the plane pulling away. I exhaled “Ay Ya Ya Yai” and raced another 1.5 kilometers to the lounge to find an alternative flight.

“Sorry sir, this was the last flight to Madrid. The next flight is tomorrow.” said the service representative in a mechanical voice and serious face. Without a hint of empathy, she set my tickets aside and directed her attention to another customer’s boarding pass.

In stark contrast to my predicament, I could see on the counter on my right a tall bearded gentleman radiating an infectious smile, seemingly unaffected by the service agent’s regretful news that he was not entitled to an upgrade.

“Excuse me, ma’am, I am still here,” I said to my service rep. “I need your urgent help. It was your flight from Singapore delay that made me miss the flight. I’m extremely stressed about the possibility of missing my engagement as the opening keynote speaker. I can’t bear to disappoint my client.”

While I was visibly troubled by the situation, the smiling tall guy remained an oasis of tranquility on the other side of the counter. Unfazed by the upgrade denial, he offered his credit card with a warm smile and told his agent, “Smile, no need to worry, I’ll pay for my upgrade.” Sensing my anxiety, he turned to me and shared a comforting proverb, “My name is Ibrahim. I am from Qatar. Smile, my friend. You can’t squeeze orange juice from a banana, no matter how hard you press.”

I returned his smile with gratitude, thanked him for being my ‘smiling angel’, and reset my attitude towards the adversity. I added, “It was quite ironic that I wasn’t smiling, considering one of my upcoming talks in Madrid is titled ‘Bounce Forward With a Smile’. Now I have also a great story to add to my keynote.” We shared a hearty laugh and I took a picture with him and our service representatives.

A smile brought a wave of positive energy, turning things around. Serendipity led me to an early morning flight that would land just in time. Empowered by a smile, I regained my composure and mental clarity.

The Gap and the Gain

Instead of being irritated by the big queue for immigration, I remember the first principle in the book ‘The Gap and the Gain’ by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy: Instead of allowing the long immigration queue to fuel my irritation, I recalled the first principle from the book: ‘Focus on the gain’. This principle advocates for shifting one’s perspective from dwelling on the gap between where you are and where you want to be, to focusing on the progress you have made so you can appreciate your accomplishments and feel more motivated to continue bouncing forward. Rather than allowing my gaze to linger on the daunting line ahead, I turned to face the growing queue behind me and smiled. I must confess that sometimes, watching other people’s heavier load can feel like a secret way to reduce the severity of our own troubles.

Checking my phone brought a surge of satisfaction and another smile. I had managed to sneak in at least half of my daily workout. A small triumph amidst the whirlwind. Arriving at the hotel, I decided to pamper myself with a decadent dessert, whispering to myself, “Let’s embrace the now, Avi. Smile.”

Tiny Habits

In 2019, Dr. BJ Fogg, a behavior scientist and the founder of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University published a book “Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything.”The premise of the book is the principle that breaking down new behaviors into incredibly small and easy-to-implement actions increases the likelihood of forming and maintaining those habits in the long run.

I was told that I often forget to smile when I’m under pressure or in a creative flow. So I decided to apply BJ Fogg’s formula, B=MAP. which stands for “Behavior = Motivation + Ability + Prompt,”. I made physical changes at my workplace to prompt me to curve my lips upward, ensuring that both myself and my colleagues could reap the benefits of genuine smiles.

𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝗰𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗦𝗺𝗶𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴

🙂 𝗗𝘂𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗻𝗻𝗲 𝗦𝗺𝗶𝗹𝗲: Named after the 19th-century French neurologist Guillaume Duchenne, it represents a genuine, heartfelt smile as compared with a fake, polite, embarrassed or cynical smile. Physically, a Duchenne smile engages the zygomatic major muscle which raises the corners of the mouth, and the orbicularis oculi muscle which causes wrinkles around the eyes.

🙂 𝗦𝗺𝗶𝗹𝗲 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘀𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝗰𝘁𝘀 𝗟𝗼𝗻𝗴𝗲𝘃𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗦𝘁𝘂𝗱𝘆: In a study published in Psychological Science (2010) by Ernest L. Abel and Michael L. Kruger, the smile intensity of 230 Major League Baseball players from photographs was examined as a potential predictor of longevity. Players with genuine Duchenne smiles lived on average until age 79.9, those with partial smiles until age 75, while non-smilers lived on average until age 72.9. While the results highlight an association between smile intensity and longer lifespan, it is possible that those who smiled might have had a more positive outlook or healthier habits that contributed to longevity.

🙂🙂𝗣𝗿𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗧𝗶𝗽: 𝗦𝗺𝗶𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗪𝗮𝗹𝗸: My mornings kick off on smiles, quite literally, with a brisk walk. It’s an exercise in more than just cardiovascular health; it’s a tiny habitual study of human interaction. I greet every passerby with a nod, a wave, and a smile, releasing any expectation for reciprocity. And life’s little symphony plays back: shy smiles, effusive grins, and sometimes even a spontaneous wellness check. Occasionally, a straight face sails by, unmoved. Yet, each exchange reciprocal or not serves as an endorphin-infused jolt, a tether to our shared humanity, setting the stage for a great start of the day for everyone.

I genuinely hope that this article has brought a smile to your face more than once and inspired you to find more reasons to smile yourself.
Like many adversities in life, missing my flight connection became less of an inconvenience and more of a serendipitous twist with a great story that I can add to my repertoire.
There I was, racing through the airport, a keynote speaker with one of the funniest resilience talks but without a smile until Ibrahim charmingly helped me walk my talk reminding me that you can’t draw water from a stone, but you can always find a reason to smile.
Another valuable lesson is that we need to be open and often solicit external feedback. The support and gentle reminders from others can play a crucial role in helping us reconnect with our values and reset our course. We also need to be there for others, helping them with their awareness.
#smile #reslience #bounceforward

Share this article:

Connect with Avi

*Mandatory field