The Intoxicating Power of a Smile

Picture the biggest badass you know. Who are you currently envisioning? Clint Eastwood? Jean Claude Van Damme? Logan? Bruce Wayne? Whoever it might be, I’m sure you’re drumming up a laundry list of characteristics that make you generalize said person into this “badass” category. Strong, hardened, sharpshooter, daredevil, sex machine, what have you – that person is ingrained in your brain as a certified, dick-kicking, hard ass.

Generally, especially males in particular, envision heroes or badasses as characters who are stoic, upright, vigilant, even possibly angry. Their furrowed brows and Greek statuesque qualities are the envy of men all over. What can we say? We’re cavemen at heart. And the strongest caveman wins. But here’s the issue. Most of the men listed above, and many of the men you probably drew up in your mind, have one thing in common – most don’t seem human. Maybe they even aren’t human. Whether it be through literal incapability to be happy, or you know, knives in your fist, they’re detached from what we perceive as human.

Image result for wolverine
Adamantium skeleton? Exception applies.

So stop acting like them.

I’ve noticed, particularly in the community of geeks who attend cons or costume parties often attempt to act as the people they dress as. They miss the mark once they get into costume. As much as we all hate to admit it, 99% of us aren’t badass vigilantes or secret agent sex gods. So when it comes to introducing ourselves to women at bars or our geeky gatherings, why do we adopt these personas when we clearly don’t fit the role? Why do we stand with our backs to the wall, pretending that our brooding moodiness is just enough Batman to attract our Catwoman?

This is even applicable to the guy who believes the suit will make the man, a tie doesn’t change much in the badass category.  Sure, maybe your confidence is increased in the three-piece, but what good is confidence if we don’t know what the first step should be down Confidence Lane? Hell, many of us may even judge the guy who lets it all go on the dance floor, acting like a goof, smiling like an idiot, looking like a…but what the shit is this? How does he have the girl??  It’s supposed to be me!! I’m the guy dressed like Tony Stark!

Funnily enough, it’s not rocket science, nor are there magical strings being played by the dancing guy. But there are a few steps that he’s probably taking to armor himself before doing battle with with impossible dragon that is “talking to a girl.”

Let’s start with a smile. This will be the helmet of your armor. And it’s easier than even putting a damn helmet on.

The Duchenne Smile

Smiling is as disarming as it is energizing. A genuine smile can serve as a great tool in any boardroom, a bar, and can even heard over the phone. It’s contagious, comforting, and inviting. A woman with a beautiful, genuine smile can turn a man’s legs to jelly. A man with a true, happy smile can make friends with anyone in the room and approach a woman with the grace of James Bond.

Social psychologists refer to this graceful, genuine smile as a “Duchenne smile,” which is aptly named after the French anatomist Guillaume Duchenne. Duchenne’s examining of the human emotional spectrum began years of study to see if a smile could truly have a social impact and unintentionally, a physical impact as well. It starts with the crinkling of the eyes, and can be most accurately seen when someone experiences something they love or something that brings true happiness. It’s automatic when seeing an old friend, the family dog, perhaps your mother or father, a sibling, or simply when you sit down to draw, write, or recreate your favorite song on guitar. Experience what you love, and you can truly flash the Duchenne smile.

Here’s the kicker – when you generate a Duchenne smile, you make others smile with you. You and other people can literally feel good because of your genuine expression. Try observing it the next time you follow a friend to watch their favorite band, when someone holds a puppy, when a mother picks up her baby, whatever. Watch them for that smile, and if you see it, I guarantee you will mirror that same happiness, if even for a moment.

Why so serious?

Back to the brooding. The largest takeaway here is this – smile, and see yourself become magnetic. Beyond the studies done by Duchenne and those in his wake, there are multiple studies on the benefits of smiling in attracting people, lifting others around you, and even improving your long-term chances at marital longevity and health. Ergo, enjoy what you enjoy with no apology (unless that shit hurts other people, then you may need to re-prioritize), and let if reflect on your features. Who cares if you’re dressed like Luke fucking Skywalker? Han Solo gets the girl anyway, and that dude smiles often and big.

Image result for han solo
Proof: Babe magnet.

When it comes to dating, or even meeting people in general, your genuine nature will attract more people to you, rather than your feeble attempt to fill a badasses’s shoes. You’ll never hear me say this again, but listen well – stop being Batman. Being the brooding protector of Gotham hasn’t been proven to increase your confidence, health, and have the same magnitude in the same way that a simple smile can. Plus, smiling most likely isn’t going to lead to a premature death via plummeting from an extreme height or you know…being stabbed.

So the next time you walk into the bar, and every gorgeous person you’ve ever dreamt of is in attendance, do me a simple favor – smile. Truly imagine your favorite moments, and project that sumbitch out to the world with those pearly whites and genuine eyes.

As far as first steps go to achieving some social success and dating clout, it’s a pretty easy fix.




1. Durayappah-Harrison, Adoree. “What Science Has to Say About Genuine vs. Fake Smiles.” Psychology Today, 5 Jan. 2010,

2. Riggio, Ronald. “There’s Magic in Your Smile.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 25 June 2012,


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