I wasn’t always so sunny and happy. People were always telling me to smile. I have noticed that my face will typically give me away and that when I’m lost in thought, which is often, it looks like I am angry. I’ve made it a point to watch this. I have also made it a point to watch my thoughts.
For much of my life insecurities and doubt have plagued me. I have hurt myself with negative messages that became my mantra that ran constantly inside my head. This made me miserable. My negative energy attracted even more negative energy from others. I struggled with not being understood but it never occurred to me at the time that I also needed to try to understand others.
I decided to be kind to myself and forgive myself for being so very imperfect. I thought I could change my inner dialog to something positive and I looked for the good in me and told myself good things about myself, even if I didn’t believe them. More importantly I took this same love and understanding that I was finding for myself and turned it outward. I made it my “job” to reach out and say something kind or supportive to people especially those who seldom hear that sort of thing. I made sure my compliments were honest and true. I learned that I could find something encouraging and positive to say to almost everyone.
Not that this is easy all the time for everyone. I am a naturally shy introvert. It has taken many baby steps to get to where I am today. I have tried to plant tiny seeds of sunshine wherever I go.
And more and more I find these seeds have sprouted.
By spreading the love it comes back, absolutely.
I don’t mean to sound trite or come off with some well worn out syrupy platitudes. I have heard people complain about the unauthenticness of the idea that thinking happy thoughts and that an attitude of gratitude is a cure-all. It is perfectly normal; healthy, in fact to have a wide range of emotions including sadness. Emotions are colors on a palate and life is art. We as artists can make our lives masterpieces when we use a full range of hues.
That being said:
I find touches dark blues, patches of deep purples and deep black hues to be in beautiful contrast to the soft pastels and sunny oranges and yellows, it is in that contrast that I find beauty in, but a little of those darker shades goes a long way. Life provides us enough of those. If I can, it is the sunshine I will spread. Makes me happier anyway.
I can make the conscious choice of letting the darkness that hits me in life stop at me. This is how I cope with the crap that hurts me; with my refusal pass it on.
I am so blessed.
So if I seem a little pollyannish or silly remember I didn’t start out that way and that really, no one can be blissfully happy all the time. Happiness requires the decision to be happy. Just the simple act of smiling is powerful magic in itself. Science has shown that the simple act of smiling can boost your mood, lower stress, boost your immune system and possibly even prolong your life.
I think to stay happy we need to spread that joy around like it’s the damn plague especially on those days when we do feel like crap.
So get out there and plague everyone you meet with joy.
Watch its boomerang effect come alive.
We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy.
25 ways to improve your mood, enliven your spirits and increase your happiness
Exercise. It doesn’t matter how, just move your body. Get your heart pumping.
Laugh. Watch a funny movie. Go to a local comedy show. Tell a joke. Or just laugh at life’s little surprises.
Talk. Open the floodgates and let it all out.
Play. Let out your inner child. Don’t worry about looking foolish. Swing on the swings. Splash in rain puddles. Lie in the grass and watch the clouds roll by. Allow yourself to have fun. You deserve it.
Color. Embrace color. Colors are widely known to influence your mood. Surround yourself with happy bright colors.
Music. Listen to upbeat happy music with positive messages.
Get outside. Natural settings enhance your mood. Spend time appreciating nature, even if it’s just a walk in the park.
Novelty. Do something different. Anything positive as long as it is out of your normal routine.
Aromatherapy. Take advantage of uplifting scents such as basil, bergamot, lemon, Clary sage, rose, rosemary and sandalwood.
Appreciate. Count your blessings, literally. Make a list of all the good aspects in your life. You may be surprised.
Sing. Sing along to your favorite song. Any song will do. Be loud and proud.
Challenge yourself. Go out of your comfort zone. Whether it is climbing a mountain, learning a language or just saying “Hello” to the mail carrier.
Friends. Look up an old friend. Make a new one. Friends are like gold.
Vacation. Play tourist in your own town. Visit the local attractions, take pictures.
Dance. Wherever, whenever you can.
Garden. Dig in the dirt. Plant a tree. Pot up a tomato plant. No space is too small. Even a few herbs on the windowsill can lift one’s mood.
Animals. Pet your pet and if you don’t have one consider getting one. Maybe befriend a neighborhood cat or visit the animals in the zoo.
Touch. Reach out and touch someone. Give a hug. Get a hug. Human contact is essential to happiness.
Create. Make something, anything counts. You are only limited by your own imagination.
Listen. Stop. Be still and just listen for 5 minutes. Notice all the sounds you hear and try to identify each one.
Eat. Healthy food is happy food.
Sleep. Take a nap. Linger in bed on the weekends a little longer. Sleep can do wonders.
Nothing. Learn the art of nothingness. Allow yourself this luxury once in a while.
There are really a million actions one can take for an excellent dose of instant happiness. These scant 25 are only a beginning….what I think is of real importance here is a person’s attitude. Happiness is a state of mind, after all.
“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
What do you do for a dose of Instant happiness. Let me know and we can add it to the list.
According to my ancient Websters dictionary; A smile is defined as a change of facial expression involving the eyes and an upward curving of the corners of the mouth that may express amusement, pleasure, affection or irony.
That sounds a tad bit antiseptic. It doesn’t define the human element of a smile and the power that a smile has.
I believe that smiles are magical and slam dunk contagious. A warm smile has the potential to melt the coldest of the cold. If it is honest and heartfelt, one simple smile can mean so much to the receiver of such a gift. A smile can convey sympathy and friendship. It can say “I understand” or “you are not alone”.
The Smile Factor
Smiles unite us. They break down language and cultural barriers. They are a basic part of our humanity. We are born with that smile factor; that need for a smile because acknowledge it or not, we all need them.
It can be easy to forget the power of a smile. A sadness or anger can set in to a person that will cause them to never smile again. Their face balling up into a permanent scowl. This scowl may remove the possibility that anyone will ever smile at them again. I think that sometimes people don’t realize the effect that we humans have on each other.
We are all connected and we affect each other more than we realize. One person’s bad day an easily become the next person’s.
Bad days are contagious too.
I have started to think about this of late. It seems some people save up their misdirected anger for someone “easier” who cannot retaliate. “The customer is always right” is their motto above all else, even human dignity. I have witnessed some rather awful behavior by some “right” customers. Rarely do I witness the opposite.
Making a difference
I am but one person, but I believe that even one person can make a difference in the life of another. So I am making it my habit to spread some good cheer around wherever I go. This is not always easy and I am not perfect, but I have found that putting aside my feelings a bit to sympathize with someone, pay a deserved complement or just a simple smile can have rewards in themselves that reach far beyond the here and now.
It’s easy and it spreads like wildfire. Try it. Smile at a complete stranger if for no other reason that to just do it. Watch the reaction you get. A smile truly is a gift that keeps on giving.