Day 10, Just Smile: Self.com’s 14 Days to a Happier, Healthier You!

One of the Operation Beautiful notes that I posted this year. To learn more about this project, go here: http://bit.ly/wOjWn7 , Photo Credit: © Anita George 2012

I smiled quite a bit today. None of those weirdly intense big grins of course, but just small smiles. Small smiles that had a big impact on me today.

I think the key to today’s task isn’t just to smile randomly. It’s to smile in spite of bad situations. That’s when you’ll notice a significant and relatively rapid change in your mood.

For me, what I’ve noticed by performing Day 10’s task is that, to smile in spite of inner anxiety or external stressors is an effective coping mechanism in and of itself.

It’s a helpful short -term distraction especially in situations where it is hard for someone to just let go of the stress and move on from problems that either cannot be solved ever or yet.

Today, most times whenever I felt intense anxiety bubbling up, I tried to smile. At first, it just felt odd and it didn’t help much. But the more I did it, the lighter I felt. The best way I can explain it is this: As I smiled more often, I began to remember things or people or memories that usually make me happy and I’d just get lost in my happy memories and then I’d really feel happier. It’s a temporary fix, because the anxieties I have do come back. But with such a distraction, I’m able to significantly decrease the amount of time I spend stressing out or worrying. I didn’t tire myself out with anxiety today.

According to the 14 Days article, the facial movements that occur when we smile “trigger physiological changes” in the brain.

The idea is that when the brain notices that we’re smiling, it assumes that we are happy and so it acts that way.

I’m not sure if the article meant that the brain just releases more happy feel-good chemicals to act happier in response to the smiling or what. But I do remember feeling better after I smiled a few times and especially after I began thinking about things that normally make me smile.

Maybe smiles cause happier thoughts to come to the forefront more often. Maybe since we generally associate happy, fun things with smiles, happy thoughts just pop up easier in response to our smiling.

In stressful situations, when it becomes especially easier to dwell on the negative parts of life, I think smiling a bit can be an effective weapon against anxiety in the short-run.

Smiling, I guess, can be  like a quick reminder for the brain to step back from the problem and remember that good times can and will happen again. And that’s something worth being reminded of, if only for a little while.

As always, I hope you enjoyed this post. Don’t hesitate to let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your opinions, questions and stories!

I’d also like to thank SELF Magazine for posting the article, “14 Days to a Happier, Healthier You!” which inspired this blog post.

Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a lovely day!

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