Mindfulness on the GO: Practicing smiling
We have to look always somewhat serious. This is what our society is expecting from us.
But, for few days, please allow yourself to smile spontaneously once a while during the day w/o any specific reasons. Strange isn’t !
Before doing this weird and unnatural exercise, feel the expression on your face: is it tense, do you have frown lines between the eyebrows? Sneak a look at your expression when you pass a mirror or a reflective window. You will be surprised that your habitual facial expression is too often rigid, tense, worried, almost sad and even negative with a downturn to the corners of the mouth that looks disapproving. Once people realize this, they often undertake to adjust their face to look more positive.
Are your teeth clenched? Do you feel restless? Worried? Upset? Anxious? Bored? Impatient?
If you notice a neutral or negative expression or some tension, force you to smile slightly. It does not to be a wide smile, just a small one like the smile of the Mona Lisa. Weird feeling initially.
Many feel reluctant in doing this exercise. They feel that it is “fake” or unnatural to smile spontaneously especially when the timing is wrong and things are not going as expected.
Neuroscience has shown that smiling stimulates, at various degrees, the release of endorphins and serotonin, enhancing our mood and relaxing our body at least temporary. In some ways, smiling has a mental and physical cool down effect, sort of an anxiolytic effect.
On the other hand, and this is very important, your smile will have positive effects on the moods and behavior on others.
When you smile, and even when you simple stretch your mouth as if you were going to smile, your emotions and tensions will take a down turn at least for a short time. .
If smiling has such beneficial effects on our emotions and behavior and the ones of others, perhaps we should take a “serious” lifelong intermittent mindfulness-based smiling practice as often as possible.
Of course it is easier to say than to do and it require great disciple. However, you will notice its benefices very quickly.