When I was upset as a child, I remember adults around me saying “it takes more facial muscles to frown than to smile”.
As corny and irritating as it sounded, usually in the moment of a temper tantrum, it would typically make me stop crying. And invariably, it would make me smile, even if it was just a little grin.
What I didn’t realize as a kid was that when life pisses you off, or if you’re feeling anxious, just smile. That’s all you need to do to begin feeling better.
Why is that?
Because, smiling feels so good!
And, it’s a natural, automatic reaction.
In fact, smiling actually feels so much better than frowning, crying or screaming in a fit of anger.
As the world has changed over the past couple of years, we don’t see as many people smiling anymore.
For a while, it became a universal norm for precious, beautiful smiles to be hidden behind masks to keep everyone safe from the virus. Sure, but I’ll save my opinions for another post.
So, I’d like to confess something: I miss smiles. Like, I really miss them.
Back in 2021, I remember sitting in my car in the parking lot of my local supermarket.
I observed people getting out of their cars, obediently donning their masks and heading on in to the store.
Some people drove up in their cars fully masked, even though no one was in the car with them.
As I walked my dog in my neighborhood, I noticed small children on playgrounds were masked up by perhaps anxious parents.
Even sadder, I saw kids trying to take them off.
Why? Because it’s natural to want to smile and breathe without any impediments. This is how God made us.
I just noticed how as humans of all ages, we became stripped of our smiles in a mere few months.
Our smiles are a part of what defines our uniqueness as humans.
Sadly, we’ve all become robotized and impersonal in our interactions with each other by wearing masks.
And now that mask mandates have been pretty much lifted, people are still so serious-looking. If you look closely in their eyes, they still look spooked and uneasy about whatever might be troubling them.
Astonishingly, we have forgotten how to smile.
Why is everyone so darn serious, anxious and frowny all the time?
Facial expressions convey so much information.
For instance, a smile conveys warmth, happiness, joy, openness, sincerity, positivity and lightness.
It’s an invitation to socially engage with another person.
And a beautiful wide smile uplifts not only ourselves but other people too.
I found it fascinating to learn that smiling is good for your health in many ways.
For example, a smile releases feel-good neurotransmitters which boost your mood, relaxes your mind and body, and melts away anxiety.
And here’s a great reason to have a wide grin. A smile is actually a natural anti-depressant; it requires no drugs and boosts mental health almost immediately. Pretty cool, eh?
Also, a smile can diffuse a tense or difficult situation and lower blood pressure.
In fact, people dealing with significant pain have reported that a smile can make the situation more bearable. This Psychology Today study even report that smiling on a regular basis can add years to your life.
So, the power of a simple, natural happy facial expression that involves turning up the corners of our mouth is tremendous.
If you’re feeling anxious, just smile. Because it really works to help lift a sour mood.
In case you’re still frowning a bit, here are some more feel-good benefits of smiling.
When you smile, your mind can shift into a tranquil place where things can be seen in a more positive light. And it’s natural to want to smile! You instantly release endorphins especially when it leads to pure laughter, happiness and joy!
Oh, and did I mention that smiles are usually contagious? In a good, positive way that benefits others around you too.
I invite you to find more ways to smile each day.
Here are some simple ways you can do this:
- Smile in the mirror each morning and night when you brush your teeth
- Take off your mask. There are countless studies out showing that masks don’t work to stop the transmission of any virus. So, why not show off your smile and breathe freely as nature intended?
- Find and share some silly, funny memes on social media with your friends. Just because smiling and laughter is contagious so spread some smiles around!
- Play with your pet. Dogs and cats live in the moment. When you spend time with them, their warmth and playfulness will invariably bring a smile to your face. And you’ll feel stress melting away, even if it’s for just a few minutes.
- Turn off the news, especially in the evening and watch some comedy instead: a classic comedy movie or a sitcom, even if you’ve watched it before
- Play some of your favorite songs. Dance and sing along like no one’s watching. And just notice yourself smiling and laughing out loud!
- Do something thoughtful for someone in need. A random act of kindness can bring a sense of warmth to your spirit, inner joy and happiness which will invariably translate into a content smile.
So, if you’re still feeling anxious, just smile.
And, the next time you find anxiety and stress sweeping over you, take a time out and put on your happy face. It’s simply awesome for your mind, body and spirit!
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If stress and trauma are weighing you down and you’re struggling to break free and heal, consider booking a discovery call with me. It’s free! And, that’s something to smile about 🙂