How to give an instant smile

A couple of years ago, when my son was 11, he stood for an hour on a San Francisco street, as hundreds of people rushed past after work.

He held up a sign to each person who passed, no matter how they dressed or walked or looked.

The sign simply said:

You are awesome. Just the way you are.

Some people hurried by and didn’t see the sign. But the people who did… wow. They instantly burst into a smile.

One moment they looked distracted and stressed while grinding on a mental hamster wheel, and the next moment they were lit up with a firework of happiness.

Unfortunately, too often, we’re given a very different type of message. Insecurities are a strong motivator.

We’re told why we need to fix ourselves…

  • “You will be awesome… after you buy this product.”
  • “You will be awesome… after you whiten your teeth.”
  • “You will be awesome… if you take my investment advice.”

At work, we hear a variation of this…

“You will be awesome in your job, once you fix those weaknesses of yours.”

In school, many kids are given a similar message:

“You will be awesome… when you get better grades / score in the game / fit into the crowd.”

But imagine if our kids heard a different message: “You are awesome. Just the way you are.”

This is a different message, a strange and unfamiliar one for many people. We’re so accustomed to hearing that we need to change in order to improve. Yet what if, in fact, the opposite is true?

What if who you are is exactly right?

You don’t have to fix yourself.
Just do more of what you’re already doing right.

You don’t have to CHANGE who you are.
Just be MORE of who you already are, at your best.

(Let that sink in. Doesn’t that feel incredible? You can stop struggling to change.)

Optimism is a stronger motivator than insecurity.

When I originally shared this story in 2015, someone posted a (very) negative comment under the fake name “Reality Check.” The comment said this was “BS” because “we are all “broken.”

In this short video, Asher reads his personal reply to the comment.

Where can you add this optimism in your life? Who needs it most? How can you give it this immediate spark?

If an 11-year-old can change the world on a distracted and crowded street, maybe you could change a little corner of your world, too.

Your tiniest actions can have a ripple effect. That ripple can grow to make a difference in your office, your family, and your world. Even the biggest movements start with one person.

You don’t have to stand on a busy street, holding a handmade sign like Asher did. But… maybe you could.

  • What if you tried it for 10 minutes, during your lunch hour?
  • What if you taped an anonymous handwritten sign to your office wall?
  • Or stuck a little note in your child’s lunchbox for them to discover tomorrow?
  • What if you said it loud to someone who’s feeling discouraged or nervous?

Optimism doesn’t have to be fancy. It just has to be authentic.

Give one person the experience of feeling awesome. But here’s the really important part — you can’t leave off the second half of the message:

You are awesome… just the way you are.

If you want to create an emotional connection, you don’t need an expensive marketing campaign or fancy engagement program.

Just tell one person. It can be a co-worker, or a client, or a customer, or a family member. It can even be a stranger.

Here are three ways to start your own ripple effect of optimism:

  1. In your marketing, tell customers why they’re ALREADY great, just the way they are, whether they buy your product or not. You will build a more positive emotional connection.
  2. In your office, show employees how to do more of what they’re already doing right. You’ll inspire a culture of optimism.
  3. Soak in your own uniquely extraordinary and fascinating qualities. (If you don’t already know, I’ll show you right here). When you feel good about who YOU are, you are more likely to help others see the best of themselves.

Here’s my question for you:

Who are YOU going to tell that they are awesome, just the way they are?

Share this message with someone who needs a burst of optimism.

As for me, I’m going to tell my son, Asher… “My love, you are awesome just the way you are.”



Read this quick story for a ridiculously inspiring boost (Tweet this)

I love this little way to make a very BIG difference (Tweet this)

Find out this one small way to make a big difference in the world today (Tweet this)

You do not have to fix yourself. Be MORE of yourself (Tweet this)

Optimism is stronger than insecurity. Here’s why (Tweet this)

How to give someone an instant smile (Tweet this)

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About the author

Sally Hogshead

Sally skyrocketed to the top of the advertising world in her early 20s, fascinating millions of consumers for clients such as MINI Cooper and Coca-Cola. Since then, she’s published two New York Times bestsellers on the science of fascination, and is one of only 172 living members in the Speaker Hall of Fame. Over a million professionals have taken the Fascination Advantage® personality test to discover how others perceive their communication.

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