When someone walks into a room with an infectious smile we often find ourselves smiling along and feeling better for it.
Well there’s more to this than many of us realise. When we feel happy it’s natural to smile. When we see someone else smile it’s natural to smile back. But what about those times we don’t feel so upbeat and there isn’t someone else’s smile to help. Instead of getting caught up and ruminating about how we feel research has now shown the positive value of ‘smiling through’.
So how do we learn to smile when we least feel like it? Over the last 20 years huge strides have been made in understanding how the human brain learns and trains. Instead of being fixed as we enter adulthood it’s now understood that our brain remains adaptable all through our lives. It can learn new tricks at any age, just not as quickly as when we were younger. All we need to do is train it, and train it consistently. Repetition is important here. Knowing that and understanding all is not lost we can retrain our response to the challenging and difficult.
That’s the science, what’s the art of smiling?
This is how we apply this knowledge. How do we take it into daily life and daily experience? Whenever we feel challenged, whatever we are facing if we train ourselves to smile and relax the tension we feel both in our body and inside our head, our mind will feel more uplifted and expansive and we’ll get less caught in the spiral of thoughts, judgements and self-criticism that can be so disabling at these times. That will help us face whatever we are dealing with from a more balanced place enabling us make better choices whilst being kinder to ourselves and those around us.