How To Wing it and Still Win

I’ve dreamed of this moment for years without realising it. I’m watching my five year old daughter take her first dance class and I’m proud of her. Even though she doesn’t know anyone and doesn’t know what she’s doing, she seems happy. But it’s more than that.

Even as she literally trips, stumbles and flails around the dance studio, she exudes confidence. How can it be?

Watching her I can see that if you’re not prepared for something and have to wing it you can still win if you’re confident, outgoing and happy.

Those three qualities – confidence, friendliness and happiness are all you really need for a good life and to do well at anything. In fact, the only thing you need to do is SMILE.

[tweetmeme]That’s what my daughter’s doing because it’s all she can do! She can’t high kick, do the splits or strike a pose like some of the other kids but she can smile and that seems to be good enough. The teacher smiles back and the other kids are crowding round quizzing her as if she was Brittney Spears.

Smiling is so powerful. It’s mesmerising, inspiring, motivating and uplifting both to smile and to be smiled at. People who smile attract other smiley people, they’re instantly surrounded by other happy, confident people and of course that rubs off on them too. Smiling is a mutually beneficial cycle for all parties.

Why don’t people smile more?

Smiling is free, it’s easy and it’s fun. But look around you and you’ll see that the world is divided into two types of people – the smilers and the non-smilers. If you want to be in the smiley group it’s easy, just smile and join them, they’ll be happy to have another smiler in the group.

We all have to do something for the first time, something we’ll probably mess up. We all suffer from anxiety. We all feel at times that we’re not good enough. But look at the people that inspire us most like Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Oprah – they’ve all suffered terrible hardships in life and carried on smiling anyway. They wouldn’t have gone on to become the magnetic personalities they are today if they’d sat around moping with long faces and a defeatist attitude.

Put a smile on your face and you’ll come out a winner. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing to begin with you’ll hook up with people who do. A smile will introduce you to friendly people who want to help you and will inspire you to succeed.

A smile will show people that you’re a winner even if you’re not convinced of it yourself. A smile will lift your spirits and confidence even when you’re feeling low.

It’s amazing that a five year old can instinctively know that a smile’s a key ingredient for success.

My sub-conscious dream

Before my daughter was born I already had two sons. When I was pregnant for the third time I was secretly hoping to have a baby girl although having three boys would have been amazing too. My daughter was born at home with no painkillers and by the time I’d been through that experience I really didn’t care what I’d given birth to.

The fact that I now had a daughter as well as two sons didn’t hit me until a few weeks later when I was reading the Sunday papers and saw an advert for a ballet that reduced me to tears. For the first time in my life I could look forward to going to the ballet with my daughter in the years to come.

We haven’t been to a ballet yet but seeing my daughter take her first dance class was a golden moment. I’m not expecting her to be a prima donna ballerina or a backing dancer for Lady Gaga, but I hope dance will provide her with a lifelong outlet for fun and creativity any time she hears some music that takes her fancy.

Most of all I hope she can always keep her winning attitude and keep smiling. If you want to succeed in life don’t forget to smile while you go about it. A smile will take you far.

Have you got a story about the power of smiling to share?

Thank You For Reading

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  1. Suzanne Vara July 6, 2010 at 6:05 pm - Reply


    Your daughter is absolutely adorable. As a reader, I am so proud of her being in a new country and taking on dance.

    I love this post as this is it. I will say good morning, Hi, um, a hey always with a smile when I walk past people. Many times I am lucky if I get a grunt back. I do not understand that. I am not biting, asking for money, interfering with your day, no none of those, I just am smiling and saying Hi.

    In social media we talk about building relationships, a network, etc and communicating with each other but how often do we see people breaking out from their core crew to respond to someone new or just someone saying hi?

    Great reminders and be sure to keep us posted on her dance recitals.

    • Annabel Candy July 6, 2010 at 8:01 pm - Reply

      Hi Suzanne, thanks for coming by and leaving this lovely long comment, it’s great to hear from you. Of course you’re in the smiley type. I think most of my readers will be and I wish the whole world was. I purposely try to cheer up sad looking people with a smile but you’re right, it doesn’t really work. You’re right about the social media analogy too. It’s always good to get out of the comfort zone of our regular social sphere but we don’t do it enough. What I love about social media is that it gives us the opportunity to do it easily:)

  2. Robin Dickinson July 6, 2010 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    I’ve just come from a holiday in Fiji where the national pastime must be smiling. They are one happy bunch of people – the young, the old, the workers, the students – everybody.

    It was a week laced with hundreds of smiling souls. They smile the real smile – you know – the one with the eyes that look deeply and appreciatively into your heart.

    What a lesson! Their villages are simple compared to our ‘sophisticated’ cities. People live on less and seem not to stockpile useless possessions. They project a real interest in joyful living and sharing what they have. They dance with you, sing to you, wave to you and smile at you. It’s the happiest holiday we’ve ever had.

    Robin :)

    • Annabel Candy July 7, 2010 at 9:28 am - Reply

      Hi Robin, so glad you had a good holiday – how could you not! Fijians are famous for their fabulous smiles and generosity of spirit. Definitely something for us westerners to aspire to. I love that line “the real smile – you know – the one with the eyes that look deeply and appreciatively into your heart”. It’s true, there’s smiling and there’s smiling. I think I’m going to see if I can smile better:)

  3. Joshua Noerr July 6, 2010 at 11:27 pm - Reply

    Annabel, I have found that a real, genuine smile is very helpful in disarming an escalated situation. I do this all the time.

    When I first entered the sales world, I read a book about harnessing the power of body language, and I literally practiced my smile in the mirror for a few days so that I knew it didn’t look fake, and it hit all the points of a good smile outlined in the book.

    You are so right, a smile is amazing, and when you can get someone else to mirror your body language, specifically your smile, half the battle is won.

    • Annabel Candy July 7, 2010 at 9:30 am - Reply

      Hi Joshua, you’re so right, if you ever feel threatened by someone it is a great way to show them you’re friendly and expect them to be too:) I love that you use smiling as a way of bonding with people – great for business and personal relationships.

  4. rob white July 7, 2010 at 1:12 am - Reply

    Hi Annabel,
    That’s a wonderful vision of your daughter. I am reminded of something I was just pondering this weekend. I was thinking of some of my heroes like, Miles Davis and Bob Dylan. Neither one was a technical master of their craft. There were certainly many trumpeters who were more expert, or guitar players and singers who were more proficient. But seeing them and hearing them one immediately gets that they have something that makes them genius. We understand their absolute authenticity and their soul comes through in their music. They are essentially playing with a “smile”… that intangible that cannot be faked or practiced. Everybody instinctively knows the real thing when they see it. That was the genius you saw in your daughter. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Annabel Candy July 7, 2010 at 9:33 am - Reply

      Hi Rob, love that comment, it’s true that it’s not always about skill or experience, personality and authenticity are more important. I hope my daughter can maintain that confidence. I’ve struggled with confidence often – faking it helps but everyone deserves to really feel it!

  5. Sandra Lee July 7, 2010 at 5:23 am - Reply

    Annabel, Love your take-off on smiling. I also notice how powerful smiling is. It such an easy way to uplift almost everyone you come into contact with. I’ve read that it does something physiologically too that makes you feel better. May the whole world smile!

    • Kola July 7, 2010 at 7:59 am - Reply

      definitely. I can attest to the psychological boost! There have been days that I was grudgingly doing some manual labor around the house, and something small brought a smile to my face that just made everything seem a little brighter :)

      • Annabel Candy July 7, 2010 at 9:34 am

        Hi Sandra, it that right? It really makes sense! Like Kola I know from experience that just smiling really does make you feel better – and look better too of course:)

  6. Katie Tallo July 7, 2010 at 5:35 am - Reply

    Annabel, your daughter is lovely. I have one of my own and I know that it’s those moments when we see them step out into the world and interact that make us most proud and inspired. We think we’re teaching them and then, they turn around and show us what life is really all about. I’m smiling ear to ear. Thank you for such an engaging and personal post.

    • Annabel Candy July 7, 2010 at 9:38 am - Reply

      Hi Katie, thank you! She’s a feisty little thing so I think she’ll do well in life. You’re right, it’s lovely to have the teaching role reversed and brilliant when they show independence and are happy to do their thing without holding mummy’s hand. You have a great smile too, I love seeing it here and really feel the love coming from my readers when I see their smiley faces added to my blog page in a comment:) Thanks so much!

  7. Barbara Hammond July 7, 2010 at 5:39 am - Reply

    First of all… your daughter is Adorable! I’m sure she’ll go far with that smile!
    Years ago I had a business that was going under and in my attempt to save it I hired a consultant to help boost sales. His way of doing this was to teach everyone how important attitude and a genuine smile make such a difference. His way with people and the simplicity of what he was teaching everyone made a large uptik in sales that lasted long enough to get out of the biz without too much angst. I’ve incorporated his teachings into my life ever since, and know for a fact that a smile will get you miles further in life than a frown!
    Thanks for the post!

    • Annabel Candy July 7, 2010 at 9:41 am - Reply

      Hi Barbara, brilliant story there, thanks for sharing it with us:)

  8. Trish Cardona July 7, 2010 at 6:45 am - Reply

    I have to admit, smiling doesn’t always come naturally for a more or less introvert like me. I mostly wear a poker face, or so I think but people often interpret that as a scowl or an intense gaze — very bad.
    But you’re right, smiling is a wonderful way to go through your day. As the old adage goes, feelings follow actions, so even if I don’t have anything ‘amazing’ to smile about, just the fact that I’m in good health, my family’s happy and we live in a great country should be more than enough to keep me smiling.
    Thanks, Annabel!

    • Annabel Candy July 7, 2010 at 9:44 am - Reply

      Hi Trish, I’m quite introverted too so maybe I hide behind a smile:) It sounds like you have lots to smile about so I hope you’ll be doing it more often. Save the poker face for the poker table!

  9. Steve July 7, 2010 at 6:51 am - Reply

    She’s a winner! Starting with a smile shows she has what it takes!

    Several years ago, I spent a couple of weeks in Chiapas Mexico. It was during a very difficult time for them. Soldiers were all around and the Zapatistas were being hunted down. Anyone not touting the government line was usually given a very hard time.

    Despite this, everyone I met on the street or in a cafe would smile. When I got back to the states in Chicago, something seemed wrong. It took me a few minutes, but then I realized no one was smiling. I wanted to get back on the plane!

    Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone!

    • Annabel Candy July 7, 2010 at 9:46 am - Reply

      Hi Steve, viva Mexico! Life is definitely better with a smile, it’s the least we can do for ourselves and other people. I totaly relate to your story and have experienced the same feeling when returning to England from various overseas trips. Like you it made me want to leave again and go back to the smiley people:) I hope you can find them wherever you are now – they are around in every corner of the world!

  10. Kola July 7, 2010 at 7:55 am - Reply

    She DOES look a little like Brittney Spears actually! I think your perspective here is very interesting because I once read a book called 92 little tricks for big success in relationships by Leil Lowndes. It’s a great quick read and I learned alot from it. In it, Leil shares a little trick from corporate America. Apparently, when you meet someone new, it’s good to wait a second or two before smiling because it makes it look like a more sincere smile. who knew?

    • Annabel Candy July 7, 2010 at 9:49 am - Reply

      Hi Kola, lol, I’m a bit of a Brit fan actually. I love that she’s been through the shredder and come out the other side still smiling. Definitely an inspiration. Thanks for the tip. It makes sense that people want to know that we’re smiling at and because of them, not just because we walk round with an inane grin on our faces all the time!

  11. Eric | Eden Journal July 7, 2010 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Hey Annabel,
    Great post, the power of a smile is sometimes overlooked. I actually just did a post on this the other day, I hope you don’t mind me sharing.
    Smile, It’s Contagious

    You’re daughter is a cutie, she’ll go far with that winning smile and great attitude.

    • Annabel Candy July 7, 2010 at 1:45 pm - Reply

      Hi Eric, great to see you here again. I’ll check out your post. I’ve added a blurb in my legal section about comments after I had a problem with one commenter who went a bit OTT adding heaps of links in the comments here. Quite happy to have you or anyone leave related and useful links like this. I think we can all tell what’s spam and what’s not. It’s just a way for me to reserve the right to delete links I don’t like for people who are taking it too far:)

      • Eric | Eden Journal July 9, 2010 at 1:56 pm

        Oh man, I hate it when one person spoils it for everyone. Thanks for keeping me out of the spam bucket. ;)

  12. Bangalow Accommodation July 7, 2010 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    WONDERFUL WONDERFUL WONDERFUL, WHAT AN ADORABLE STORY – thanks for sharing your insights. I’m loving your writing, Thank you very much. And here’s some smiles back to you for your kindness and open-heartedness :) :) :) :)

  13. Baker July 8, 2010 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    Hey Annabel!
    Wonderful post. I love how you tied in your daughters experience with the idea of “winging it.” I have found in my own life when I appear like I know what I’m doing, I actually do get the results I want. It’s an intersting concept that I think needs to be studied more. Great story!

  14. Anne Galivan July 9, 2010 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    I just want to share my story of my daughter and dancing with you.

    My only daughter is my oldest child. I had her involved in various activities when she was young, to see what “clicked” with her. She didn’t start ballet until she was 10, even though I come from a “dancing family.” (My paternal grandparents met when they were both performers on Vaudeville!)

    All it took was that first year of ballet and my daughter was sold. At the age of 12 she was dancing en pointe. She continued to dance for years (including liturgical dance) and even chose dance over piano at the age of 16 when her life became too full to continue to do both.

    She really wanted to dance professionally with a Christian ballet company, but what we came to find out is that the chances of becoming a professional dancer are on par with playing professional sports.

    But that didn’t stop her from enjoying dance. In her 20’s she started taking ballroom dance and then salsa. She still loves to dance and though she doesn’t get to go dancing often anymore, if there is ever an opportunity to dance (such as a wedding reception) she is not a wallflower – you will definitely find her kicking up her heels on the dance floor.

    So even if your daughter never becomes a prima ballerina, dancing is an activity that can enhance her life for her ENTIRE life. (I will also add that it is an activity that can inculcate a lot of confidence.) I hope she truly enjoys it.

    By the way, my next three children were boys and it’s been a long time since the days of tu-tu’s. You will find me more often on the baseball field…which is okay too!

  15. Connie Rice July 10, 2010 at 5:56 am - Reply

    Smiling is the quickest pick me up, antidepressant out there! I’m smiling as I type this! :-D

  16. Farnoosh July 11, 2010 at 12:03 am - Reply

    So sweet, so heart-warming, so kind. I so enjoyed reading this and looking at that GORGEOUS photo of your little girl. I think I have decided to opt out of having babies but sometimes I wonder what if…..I just don’t know if it’s strong enough to take the plunge. I either do things completely or not at all. So in turn, I enjoy immensely reading about other parents who look so forward to things with their children, and this story was very heart-warming as I said…..thank you Annabel. Here’s to many, many ballet recitals and performances in your life!

    • Annabel Candy July 19, 2010 at 9:13 am - Reply

      Hi Farnoosh, I totally understand if you decide not to have kids! Women should be free to choose that too and there are plenty of other people’s kids to hang out with anyway;)

  17. J.D. Meier July 12, 2010 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    Keeping the winning attitude is key. It’s way too easy to develop Learned Helplessness as we get older.

  18. Tammy July 13, 2010 at 3:07 am - Reply

    It’s great to hear your little girl’s enjoying trying something new so much, and I imagine she’s smiling because she’s genuinely enjoying herself.

    And there’s the problem with smiling . . . if it’s not genuine, it doesn’t have quite the same effect. Apparently, there are two types of smiles, the genuine smile and the non-genuine smile, which is shockingly called the ‘Pan-American’! Tests on stroke patients have proven that these two different smiles are controlled by two completely different parts of the brain and use different facial muscle groups. The genuine smile was an involuntary action and was acheivable by the group of patients; the Pan American smile however, was not.

    The thing is, us humans are incredibly observant, even if we don’t realise it, and we can tell immediately the difference between the two, and our subconscious reactions to the smiles are different too. We tend to view the non-genuine smile as a threat!!

    Of course, I’m not advocating that we stop smiling, more that we find things in life that make us genuinly smile a lot more!

  19. meg July 29, 2010 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    Hi, I am browsing for the tips on how to remain focus and it leads me on your page and it’s good to learn from you and to the others here. It’s really hard to stay focus on something to get done if the internet connection is running and get immerse in reading blogs like yours. :) I have a 9-year old daughter and every mother’s dream to raise their child into an optimistic, strong and with a sunny disposition adult they can be. And I am inspired with your blog, really SMILE can bring sunshine on that gloomy day, and it is very contagious, resulting a positive aura around.. :D Long live, Annabel!

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