Power Of A Smile

It’s so important to smile (but not in a creepy way)


Scientists say we actually feel better when we smile. Try it, go on really smile. Look at a beautiful flower, think of a great place or something amazing you did that really made you smile (possibly best if you keep the last one to yourself). Go on smile - If you are you should be getting a warm glow.

It makes us feel better 

Dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are released which relaxes us, reducing heart rate and blood pressure. Endorphins are natural painkillers so if we can be gracious and smile when in pain it helps. If I’m suffering on an ultra-distance run (which I usually am) I think of something that makes me smile. It helps; you feel better and it gets you to the end, then you’ll smile even more when you cross the finish line.

It’s good for our health and relationships

This chemical release improves mood overcoming anxiety and depression. It relieves stress, boosts the immune system, reduces heart rate and blood pressure and also relieves pain. Studies show people who smile live longer (US study of a football team photo showed those with a happy smile lived 7 years longer). According to studies smiling also makes us look younger, thinner and more attractive. Smiling makes us seem courteous, likeable and competent and releases more feel-good chemicals in our body than chocolate. It’s also infectious.  The 9 Superpowers of Your Smile

Is all smiling good?

Don’t think so. Most of us have been on the receiving end of a sarcastic smile or a controlling smile when someone’s displeased with us. Here are the types of smile to avoid: insincere, creepy, controlling, bullying, smug and psycho. In the movie The Shining, Jack Nicholson axes through a door, smiles and says ‘Wendy I’m home’ giving an example of a psycho smile that’s not good. (Yes, you can Google it and try not to do one).  Psychology of Smiling: can you tell a fake smile from a genuine one?

What’s behind the smile? 

Most of us can tell a genuine smile, or can we? The best thing to have behind a smile is a thankful heart and an I’m ok you’re ok attitude.  The human being can’t be in two conflicting emotional states so if we feel down, make a conscious effort to smile and put on a happy face we’ll actually feel happier. People with a pencil between their teeth, forcing their lips into a smile, actually feel better.

We get back what we give out

When talking to someone who was having a tough time they frowned and said ‘Wherever I go people look miserable. That’s the way the world is.’  We did some work on getting them to focus on a happy state, sing their happy song and smile more. A week later they phoned and said ‘Wherever I go people smile and my world’s so much better’. What goes around comes around. Just as kindness and courtesy cost us nothing having a generous accepting view of the world in which we smile and spread some sunshine is important (unless you’re standing next to a psycho- in which case move) and it’ll almost certainly be reflected back in far great quantity.

Further reading:

There's Magic in Your Smile

Benefits of smiling

The Power of Smiling: 7 Health Benefits of Smiling

The Power of a Smile

New Role as Safety Ambassador

New Role as Safety Ambassador for the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA)

In 2015 I was invited by the Fork Lift Truck Association to be the guest speaker at its annual National Safety Conference. That day was a real eye opener.

Fork lift trucks are an integral part of the British daily work life & might appear innocuous however every year more than 1000 people in the UK are seriously injured, or worse, in accidents. That’s four people each working day who suddenly find themselves facing life-changing injuries: from complex fractures and dislocations to deglovings and amputations.

Since discovering the sheer enormity of the issue and the need for greater awareness of fork lift truck safety, I have been increasing my involvement with the FLTA.

Most recently, I was invited by the FLTA to serve as one of its Safety Ambassadors. In this new role, I aim to use any publicity I can generate to spread the FLTA’s important safety message even further.


A positive safety initiative, the FLTA’s annual month-long fork lift truck safety campaign runs throughout September.

'Having spoken at the National Fork Lift Safety Conference and visited some of our members, Chris understands the dangerous nature of FLTs and the 1000 life changing injuries per year caused by them. Safetember provides safety resources to members of the Association and the public to get the message out there and make a difference to safety in the workplace' - Peter Harvey, Chief Executive FLTA

For more information: Fork Lift Truck Association ; Fork Lift Safety

Twitter: FLTA


Man Forcibly Removed From Aircraft 10 Top Tips For Stress Free Travel

10 Top Tips For Stress Free Travel

It’s been trains planes and automobiles for the last two weeks, as I've had the good fortune to be speaking all over the UK and Europe. Today shocking footage and news coverage of the passenger forcibly removed from a United Airlines aircraft has gone viral and shows just how stressful travel can be. So how can we travel stress free?

Firstly, let’s look at the harsh legal reality of this shocking and distressing incident.

Man forcibly removed from United Airlines flight

The Captain is legally in charge of the aircraft and it’s legal for airlines to bump passengers from an oversold flight. The airline is responsible for deciding ‘fair boarding priorities’. In this case IF it’s true he’s a Doctor needing to treat patients and the social media statements saying he was chosen because he looked Chinese are true then that’s clearly unfair, atrocious and indefensible. United Airlines are denying he was chosen because of his ethnicity.

Was the force used necessary and proportionate? On a point of arrest and restraint when someone’s deeply distressed and emotional why is an officer who appears armed grappling with someone who has been security screened and we know is unarmed? Human beings have three likely responses to being physically attacked: fight, flight or fright and if we do a risk assessment- there’s a possibility one reaction’s fight,  the red mist might descend and someone’s survival instincts kick in, they could try to get the weapon and end up shooting or being shot. However, some might argue there were two other armed men to shoot him on a full aircraft if necessary so that’s okay. The way he was grabbed could have easily led to escalation. His resistance appears passive and in the social media clip he doesn’t look threatening.

They were legally entitled to see him as troublesome when he refused to leave the aircraft, although he could argue the boarding priority was unfair. It appears arrest and restraint procedures were not followed and the actions of one officer "placed on leave", by the Chicago Department of Aviation were "obviously not condoned by the Department".


So back to the question. How can we travel stress free? Here are Ten Top Tips from the last thirty years compiled in my last two weeks of continuous travel:


Plan To Get There In Good Time

  1. Plan Ahead Leave Nothing To Chance - (Unless you’ve no agenda and are going for a chill thrill). I plan my travel times and book transfers in advance. Be organized and have your bits and kit together. When I arrive somewhere the first thing I do is arrange my exit strategy and book onward travel then I run (It beats jet lag).


  1. Leave Extra Time To Cover Delays - When I’m speaking where possible I leave a contingency for delays so get there the day before or have the possibility of at least one other flight to get me there. If driving I allow an extra hour or two so heavy traffic and roadworks don’t cause stress. (If driving’s stressful get the train where you can).


  1. Love Travel - As a speaker, I make a conscious decision to love it, because it would be extremely unwise not to. Even if I'm tired I look forward to getting on a plane or a train so I can have a nap. I continually focus on the things I love about travel and make the effort to enjoy the journey. Choose a positive attitude and avoid focusing on any inconvenience, enjoy the journey???

I am Chris Moon – Loudon Hill

Find Things to Love About Travel. Enjoy The View

  1. Engage With People and Treat Them With Respect - I’ve met some amazing people with great stories. Find things to like in people. What goes around comes around. Don’t judge a book by its cover and if people don’t want to engage in conversation respect their privacy.


  1. Understand The Rules and Stick To Them - Turn up at the gate on time with a bag that’s the right size and understand what you can and can’t take through security. The most stressed people I’ve seen on my travels are trying to defend the indefensible.


  1. Ask For Help When Needed and Be Prepared to Help - Add some value and meaning to your travels by being a Good Samaritan. ? ??


  1. Travel As Light As Possible - The more stuff the more stress. Get crush proof clothes- non-iron shirts are so good now. Get underwear and socks that can be washed out and left to dry overnight if necessary (lucky me I’ve only got one sock to dry)


  1. Take Books, Work, Downloaded Films, Scrabble, Neck Rest Or Whatever Else to Make The Journey Enjoyable - (but not knitting, aviation Security don't like the needles) A saying from my military days springs to mind- Any fool can be uncomfortable in the field


  1. Get a Good Small Bag With Wheels - This way you can be irritating rather than irritated when going through a station or airport.


  1. Captain of a Plane is the Law - I’ve only seen one instance of aircrew being unpleasant in thirty years and that was somewhere remote and the others apologized. Most people are great. -Enjoy your travels ?

Former POW @JohnNicholRAF asked me for thoughts on resilience in hostile situations…

Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties, tough situations and change. It’s about bouncing back and getting up one more time than we fall over. A material like nylon’s a good example, it’s not easily crushed or creased and stuff washes off it easily and it doesn’t stain. (However, I’m not suggesting we should wear more nylon. I prefer PVC). This brings me nicely to a key to resilience- good humour, the ability to laugh at ourselves and in the face of adversity. When we take offence it erodes our resilience and the world becomes a hostile place. (Couldn't find a picture of someone taking offence, so I put this one of two guys taking a fence above).

Life can be tough and unfair. I’m a realist, so the starting point is to understand and accept reality.

It is what it is. Let’s understand the objective truth and work out how we’re going to get through it.

In times of crisis one human reaction is denial, there’s a temptation to put our head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening. Helpful questions for this point: What is it I don’t want to hear about this situation? What’s the worst-case scenario? My experience is ninety-nine times out of a hundred it’s not as bad as it could be, so count your blessings.

Psychological research shows we have the ability to choose the way we think. A key part of resilience is avoiding unhelpful thinking.  Don’t blame, keep the thoughts constructive and positive. Our thinking should be grascious and generous to ourselves and others. In short, look beyond the pain and reach for realistic optimism.

Examples of stinking thinking are thoughts that are down on self, others, our future and the world in general. They’re rigid ‘it must be ‘my way’; thoughts, full of assumption; not reality tested and goal blocking- all the reasons not too.

Healthy mental habits as are accepting of ourselves, others, the world and our future. A generosity of spirit. Flexible or agile thinking which is reality tested and not assumptive. Thinking which is ‘can do’ and ‘let’s find a way to make it work’

Never underestimate the power of belief. To be resilient we must choose to believe in ourselves. Sometimes people need help to grow self-belief. Kind words of encouragement are more important than we often realise.

Asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness; we should be prepared to ask for other views and be prepared to be helped and help others. It’s a two-way street.

When I was in a remote part of Mozambique East Africa I met a missionary working in the vast Northern provinces. I was clearing UXO’s with Frank my Operations Officer ahead of UNHCR sending refugees back to their villages. One evening there was thunderstorm with the heaviest rain imaginable. The water began to rise.

We talked about floods. He smiled and told me a story (I suspect apocryphal) of a Godly man who saw the water rise around his home. He prayed to God for help and as the flood rose higher he climbed onto the roof of his house where he saw trees and cars float by. He prayed to God to send angels to save him because he was a righteous believer.

The rain fell and the floods rose, then a boy paddled past him in a canoe. He stopped and said ‘Can I offer you a ride in my boat Sir?

The righteous man replied ‘No, I’ve prayed to God to save me and I believe he’ll send angels down shortly’

The boy nods and paddles away.

Righteous man continues to pray in the rain and soon a fire service boat with flashing blue lights slows its engine and they urge him to jump aboard. ‘No thanks, I’ve prayed to God to save me and I believe he’ll send angels down shortly’

They know him to be righteous and reluctantly sail on.

The wind and rain rise. His prayers and pleas grow more intense. Finally, through the driving rain a helicopter hovers lower. The winchman descends clutching a sling and tries to save him. Pushing it away he says ‘No thank you! I’ve prayed to God to save me and I believe he’ll send angels shortly’

The winchman’s ear peace crackles ‘We have to respect his decision and there’s another twenty waiting. Let’s go.’

Swirling flood waters rise, the torrential rain continues, the house creaks and groans and finally collapses sinking into the black swirling void. The man quickly drowns.

He dies, goes to heaven, meets his maker and says ‘God I prayed to you to send angels. Why didn’t you answer me I'm a righteous person’

God laughs and says ‘What do you mean? I sent a canoe, a rescue boat and helicopter.

So maybe there are angels among us and perhaps we should strive to be someone else’s angel.

Be nylon!; I wish you a crush and wrinkle proof future.

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