When we smile it has a transforming effect within ourselves and those around us. We all know what it’s like to be with someone who has a sunny personality. Everything feels a little lighter, more possible, optimistic, connected. At times we can feel if only I were more like that……..
What’s interesting is we can be!
This doesn’t mean having a relentlessly positive and hi-vibing energy all of the time, constantly cheerful. It’s more subtle than that. It’s a question of looking at the reasons we aren’t smiling.
It’s easy to smile when everything is going our way, we feel energized and in control of our life and direction. What about all the other times?
At these times, smiling is even more important and it’s not about feeling happy, at least not yet.
This smiling is about our response to challenge and difficulty, it’s not false or trying to suppress or disguise how we feel. This smiling is the act of recognizing that our reaction to our present experience is to feel tense, constricted, withdrawn, disconnected in our mind, heart and body that may even extend into feelings of abandonment or loss. It’s a sign that we have taken our experience personally in the sense that we have identified with it, something that is being done TO me.
In truth our reaction to whatever the circumstances are, have come FROM me. When we recognize this, we don’t have to react the same way every-time something like this happens. We can de-couple the rightness or wrongness of what happened from our reaction.
If we’re careful this decoupling means we can still be smiling without feeling our smile trivializes what’s happening. My smiling is me looking after myself, restoring a sense of balance to an imbalanced situation.
It’s so hard to smile at times.
I know, at times smiling can feel like the last thing you want to do. There’s so much going on in your head, so much emotion, commentary, judgement and self-criticism. Remember, choosing to smile isn’t forcing you to feel happy, it’s the process of releasing tension in your face, particularly around your jaw, lifting the corners of your mouth AND the corners of your eyes. BOTH are important here. This sends a signal to your brain which causes the release of the same chemicals as when you are happy.
So two things are happening here, you are changing your habitual reaction to the circumstances by choosing to respond with a smile (increasing your sense of self-control in a situation you may have no control over) AND you are releasing the chemicals within your brain that will bring a change in mood.
How to practice.
Make a determination in the morning to smile into everything that happens during your day. Then notice the times when your smile has faded, and smile again and keep your smile going. Let me know how you get on.