10 Ways to Develop the Habit of Smiling

A smile is a powerful tool. 10 ideas for developing the habit of smiling.

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Deborah Haddix

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In conjunction with my writing, speaking, and blogging work, I belong to several “communities.” Facebook groups, link-ups, and other online communities provide some much-needed encouragement, support, and opportunity to glean from others as I sit, often alone, doing the work.

On this bitterly cold March morning, winter ferociously hanging on with all she has, I found myself once again grateful for this community. Popping in to visit one, I found a post written by my blogging friend, Laura Rath  over at Journey in Faith. Her post, What Makes You Smile? full of wisdom on the importance of a smile (and including some beautiful quotes), made me think.

What Makes Me Smile?

  • Conversations with my husband
  • Visits with my children
  • Video clip greetings from my grandchildren
  • Blue skies filled with white fluffy clouds
  • Sitting by a mountain stream
  • Memories
  • Anticipation
  • Face-to-face with friends
  • Spring (budding, blossoms, color, and warmth)
  • Surprises
  • My mom’s smile
  • Learning something new
  • Words of encouragement
  • Warm, sunny days
  • Roller coasters and rides that spin
  • Variety and creativity

These are the things that came to mind in the first couple of minutes after posing the question to myself.

What about you? On the bitterly cold, hard, difficult, last-thing-I-want-to-do-today-is-smile days, what makes you smile?

Making it a Habit

Toward the end of her post, Laura says, “And after a while of working to find a reason to smile, it will become a habit—a good habit. One that we’ll want to continue.”

How might we make “finding reasons to smile” a habit?

1.Before placing your head on the pillow at night, think of 3 things that made you smile that day.

2. Go the extra step and keep a journal beside your bed. Record the 3 things that made you smile each day in your journal.

3. Insert a pretty sheet of paper into an empty picture frame. Place the frame on your desk or hang it on the wall. Using a dry erase marker on the outer glass, write out something that made you smile. Wipe off the glass and record something new each day or collect your “reasons to smile” over the course of a week or more.

4. Keep an ongoing journal of “things that make you smile.”

  • Write out your entries in simple list form (single word, phrase, sentence) or write your entries in more detail including your thoughts and feelings.  
  • Determine whether you will record a predetermined number of entries each day (1, 3, 10, etc.) or choose to “go with the flow.”
  • Decide if you want to make entries according to a specific time interval (daily, weekly, every other day) or instead leave it open-ended.
  • Set up and use your journal in a way that “makes you smile.”

5. Photograph the things that make you smile. Keep your photos in a “Smile” folder on your device or print them out and place them in a journal/album.

6. Share your reasons for smiling. When you sit down for dinner, develop a habit of allowing each family member to share aloud one thing that made them smile that day.

7. Spread some positivity. Post your reason(s) for smiling on your social media account – update your Facebook status, Tweet it, or share it on Instagram.

8. Smile A-Z. Write the alphabet down the left-hand margin of a sheet of paper (one letter per line). Then fill in the alphabet with things that make you smile.

A – Anticipation

B – Blue skies filled with fluffy white clouds

C – Conversations with my husband

D –

9. Volunteer. Spend some time helping those who need it most. (You won’t be the only one smiling!)

10. Carve out some time each day to do something that makes you smile – watch a sunset, take a walk, play with a child, draw, write, hold your spouse’s hand, visit your mother, pop some popcorn and watch Elf (or any movie that brings a smile to your face).

One way to develop the habit of smiling is to journal — make a traditional or creative record of what makes you smile. Find out about the benefits of journaling and how it can be an effective tool for developing all sorts of new habits in Journaling for the Soul.



  • I agree! I’m going to start on my list.

  • Thanks so much for the shout out and for sharing!! A journal really does help, especially on the days I’m not in a smiling mood. And asking the question on FB “What’s making you smile today?” has helped me make an effort to smile because I won’t ask if I can’t answer my own question. ???? Stopping over here today made me smile!

  • You’re right–this is a great topic for a journal list.
    And I’ve really noticed that when I smile at people in public, it really pulls the smiles out of others.

  • Hope you’ll share????.

  • And, Laura, your visit today made me smile. Thank you for prompting me to think on smiling a bit more.????

  • I agree, Michele! Smiles are contagious!

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About the Author

Deborah Haddix

I am a child of God, wife, mom, grandma, daughter, sister, niece, and friend who loves nothing better than spending time with those I love.

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