Why so serious?

3 days ago I was biking back home and met 2 children biking on the other way with their mom. I found that cute so I smiled at the children; they smiled back. Then smiled at the mom; and she just stared at me like I was stupid to smile.

So I thought “That’s very parisian of you, madam”.

Cause yeah, go to Paris, and you’ll see that almost nobody smiles. Especially in the metro.

It’s like a disease they got; they are smile-disabled. It’s actually even socially acceptable not to smile; people that smile are fools. I was one of those guys when I was living there. I guess it helps coping with the busy metro, the grey weather and the noise of the city.

Everyone’s focused on its objective: get back home as fast as you can. Smiling will slow you down. And it’s risky: you never know what could happen if the other person would smile back at you. Maybe the person might kill you, you never know right?

Or check the parisian waiters. These guys are not here to be nice, they are here to give you what you ordered, and that’s it. Forget about the smile; the tip is not worth enough the effort.

That was my mindset when I moved to Montreal. Don’t smile, go straight to your objective. But things were weird. Everyone was smiling more. Random people, waiters, taxi drivers. Even the people at the embassy were smiling! (yeah, I got some pretty bad experiences with the French administration back in France…).

Another “weird thing”: when people asked me “Hey! How you’re doing?” I used to answer the honest answer. Like “Meh, it’s snowing outside. That sucks. Don’t like it”. Or “Meh, did not sleep much, I’m tired”. Or whatever bad thing that had happened to me. And that surprised them, cause nobody every says that kind of thing. The right script is:

“How you’re doing?”

“Good! you?”

“Good! See ya!”

And that’s it.

My very French mind could not understand that. Why would you say you’re doing good if you’re not?

But hey, I am an immigrant so I wanted to blend in. So more and more, I forced myself to be more positive.

“How you’re doing Antony?!”

“Meh, I’m … oh well, I’m good actually! You?”

“Great! bye”

And the more I was doing it, the more I realized something: the more positive you are, the more you actually feel good.

I can already know that my French fellows will be like “Hey but this is superficial! You’re lying to yourself!”.

Maybe I am. But why would you NOT do something that actually helps you feel more energized and more joyful?

I don’t think that a negative mindset will lead you anywhere but down.

A more positive mindset helps you connect more easily with the people: do you think you can make new contacts with your sad face? Smiling makes you look more open, and people will share more positive stories with you. So it keeps the happiness ball rolling!

Even better, it is backed by science that smiling keeps you more positive, by releasing endorphins (the “feel good” hormone).

Of course that does not mean that I don’t allow myself to be sad or angry; and the people that know me can confirm I do get mad sometimes :)

But at least, my new baseline is way more positive than what it used to be. And it’s a great feeling!

So “Madam Bicycle with children”, next time you meet me, will you smile back at me? :)

This is a repost from my blog “1 Up my Life”. If you can leave a comment or even just like the post, that would mean the world to me :) Thanks!

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