Smile Practice

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In the book The Untethered Soul, the author Michael Singer talks about making the choice of happiness being life’s work, which was a new perspective for me. I have been waiting for happiness to find me, but with the perspective of working for happiness what do we really have to lose? If we continue in our same habits, we won’t make any of those desired changes that we are constantly thinking about. We must take some form of action.

Since December, I have been trying to "turn my frown upside down" largely due to the fact my mentors and the big game changers I know are smiling often. It started with a slight uptick of the corners of my lips, but through practicing I have improved. (Who would’ve thought practice makes you better?!) Now, when I am practicing smiling, I find myself walking around with a pretty large and goofy smile on my face. I especially like to do this at the airport since I have been going there often and there are a lot of people that will see me smiling.

At first, it was very easy to feel self-conscious and give up quickly, but I was committed to this practice. It takes resilience to embrace the goofiness and do it anyway, so I am also practicing resilience. Again, what is there to lose?

Through continuing the practice of smiling I have been able to increase the length of time I smile, so I can walk across an entire airport while practicing smiling, which has some interesting side effects. While I am smiling, I don’t want my smile to seem fake, so my brain starts thinking about happy memories, happy thoughts, and singing happy tunes in my head, so my internal mood starts to match my external face, which in turn improves my mood.

While practicing smiling, I feel self-conscious, yes. But I continue to remember: On the other side of discomfort comes growth and that keeps me smiling.

Some things I do to sustain this smiling practice include:

  • Practicing gratitude
    • Say a few things to myself that I am thankful for. This can include the simplest of things.
  • Think of fun, happy memories
    • Really explore the emotions the memories bring to you
  • Sing happy songs
    • Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles is a favorite
  • Laugh
  • Keep practicing
    • As with anything, practice increases the power of the skill

Feel free to share comments on things you would like to practice to improve your resilience!