I’ve got swagger.
I wasn’t wearing anything particularly special, jeans a tee shirt and a cardigan. My jeans had glitter on the back pockets, but all my jeans have glitter on the back pockets. As I walked through Target to get a box of Ziploc bags and some Airborne, though, I could hear heads turn. People smiled. A child pointed. I was hoping I didn’t have toilet paper hanging out from the back of my pants. I checked. I didn’t.
Truthfully, I get this quite a bit. I’m not a super model, I’m not even a un-super model. I’m really quite ordinary looking, I have prominent and somewhat asymmetric features. But, I’ve got swagger. I’m not obnoxious, I don’t deliberately try to attract attention to myself, other than just smiling at people when they look up long enough to make eye contact with me. I do seek to make eye contact with people as I pass. I find people fascinating, firstly, and I like to be friendly, secondly.
I’ve got swagger. It’s just an attitude. I do try to look complete in my appearance, but I’m not outlandish or garish, except maybe for the glitter on my back pocket. I do have a confident attitude and I do seek to make eye contact with people, then I smile. I’m pretty sure people can sense the smile before it appears. People look at me because they somehow know I will smile at them. It brightens my day, and I hope I brighten someone else’s day along the way.
I think one’s attitude is contagious to others. I know it, I don’t just suspect it. I know it. I’ve even conducted evil experiments to prove my point. I have.
I was a Girl Scout leader for forever, from the time my daughter was six until she was seventeen. I was the Girl Scout leader that took all the girls at school who wanted to join. Other troops had waiting lists, I know, we’d been on one for over a year when I decided to become a leader. I didn’t believe it was the Girl Scout way to deny a girl the chance to belong because I only wanted to deal with eight girls of precisely the same age. I had several age levels and a whole bunch of girls, sometimes upwards of 25. We had so much fun.
I conducted my evil experiment at a Girl Scout outing at a very popular annual festival held at local apple ranches. I broke the girls up into small groups and assigned them an “attitude”. Some girls were to act rude, grumpy and sullen as they walked through the crowds. Another group was asked to act cheerful, helpful, friendly as they walked through the crowds. Then they switched roles and repeated the experiment. I had them come back and talk about how people reacted to them. As expected, the sullen girls got glares and impatient glances as they passed other people. The happy girls got smiles and good tidings from passersby.
I repeated this experiment at the mall with another youth group with similar results. To be expected. So why is it that so many of us choose to walk through the world with blank expressions, or worse yet, unpleasant expressions? As I’ve been trying to explain to my mom all week long, you really can influence how good or bad you feel by how you think. So, why choose to think dreary thoughts and have a dreary day, and worse yet, make everyone around you feel a bit dreary too? No matter what you feel like inside, putting a pleasant expression on, and acting outwardly cheerful will actually positively affect your mood, and the mood of those around you. Now, instead of feeling grumpy and being surrounded by grumpy people, you feel pretty good and everyone around you is smiling and saying “good morning”. And suddenly, you feel pretty good.
I took my experiment one step further one day. I’d been reading about the power of suggestion, the law of attraction and how our thoughts are “magnetic”. My daughter and I were parking at our favorite mall for an afternoon of our favorite pastime. Shopping. And people watching. We decided we would walk through the mall with an air of importance, a confident attitude, thinking we were famous celebrities. We didn’t ACT like we were famous, we didn’t speak differently or walk differently, we just thought differently. It was amazing! People actually stopped, turned and watched us pass. We weren’t dressed differently, we didn’t do anything to cause that sort of reaction other than think “I’m a celebrity”. Try it some time. It’s a trip!
So, if you want a little swagger, all you have to do is walk, look into all those faces you usually try to avoid, and smile whether they smile at you or not. Practice this, and soon, you’ll have swagger. And a happier outlook. And, best of all, your smile may totally make someone else’s day.