Smile like you mean it

Bruce Anderson considers the politics of grinning.

When characterizing what we like or don’t like, we often rely on concepts such as strong or weak, hard-nosed or vacillating, warm or cold, introspective or popularity addicted, determined or lacking fire in the belly. All good, all relevant, based on my work. But one thing that’s frequently underestimated is the enormous power of optimism, an infectious enthusiasm for the future. It’s human nature: offered a menu of hope or fear, we dine on hope.

… there is actually quite a bit of science about the social effects of smiling, and even a name (Duchenne smile) for the type of facial expression that seems the most sincere and spontaneous. Leaders who smile, who signal that we are going to succeed, are leaders we are drawn to. Leaders who signal just how bad things are or could be, who appear to be bearing the weight of the world on their shoulders, find us slipping their embrace.