Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.
-Thich Nhat Hanh
From "Choose Peace and Happiness: A 52-Week Guide," by Susyn Reeve:
Smiling is a simple, magical gesture that expresses peace and happiness. It is a gift that we can easily give. When we give it away to others, we clearly get the benefit of the energy of the smile moving through us. I remember hearing on a stress management video many years ago that it takes seventeen muscles to smile and forty-three to frown. So it involves much less effort than a scowl, and in the words of a Ziggy cartoon, 'A SMILE is a facelift that's in everyone's price range!'
I have noticed the power of a smile to change my experience in the moment. I have recently returned to practicing yoga. Usually once or twice during our class, the instructor, Ani Kalfayan, will say, 'Turn up the corners of your mouth. Yoga is meant to be joyful.' I follow her instructions, and immediately I experience a lightness of being. As I do this, my eyes are usually closed, and I feel the power of my smile embracing me. I have also noticed the power of a smile when I am paying a cashier. Words may not even be exchanged and magic immediately happens. A connection is made, and the present moment becomes a precious present. I am also aware that I have another smile. It's the sourpuss smile, and behind this smile a judge is holding court, doling out judgments, and communicating to others what I may be thinking I am hiding.
This week, get to know your smiles and use your smiles to share your love and be a gateway to moving your experience from sad to glad. Play and smile and imagine all the peace and happiness we would experience each and every day if we let a smile lead our way.
HOW TO DO IT
DAY 1: Give away fifty smiles today. As a reminder, write SMILE in bright letters on your calendar, on Post-Its you put around your house, car and workplace. Put it on your screen saver, as a reminder message on your Palm Pilot; leave yourself a Voicemail message that says, SMILE.
DAY 2: Smile to yourself fifty times today. When you are walking down the street and your notice a neutral expression or a frown on your face, SMILE. While you're in the shower, SMILE.
DAY 3: Make a list of all the things and memories that make you smile when you think about them. Post the list somewhere where you can see it, and five times today look at the list, choose an item from your list, and put your attention on it, feeling a smile fill your being. This is a powerful practice of consciously choosing where to focus your attention. The more practice we have, the more easily we can access happy thoughts when drama thoughts are flirting with us. You are strengthening your happy thoughts muscle today.