Most of us take life too seriously. We make it all into a serious ordeal, where we often fixate on the constant need to take care of ourselves and our families, to look out for dangers and live properly.
One crucial thing that often gets lost in this seriousness are our smiles. In this article we’re about to fix that!
The benefits of smiling more
There are many benefits to smiling more often, and I bet that you already intuitively know most of them. When you smile you
- Feel happier, lighter and brighter
- Keep stress and anxiety away
- Make pain more bearable
- Look more attractive
- Appear friendlier and more approachable
Smiling has a natural and relaxing effect of cooling down and relaxing your entire system. It’s like everything goes back to utter simplicity and a sense of sweet calm happens to follow. When a baby smiles, it smiles because that is indeed the most natural and appropriate response to the input it’s receiving from its surroundings.
Smiling makes everything lighter and brighter, life becomes bearable in moments of insufferable despair, it makes it possible for the heart to sing and love in the hardest surroundings. One of the many great things about smiling is that they don’t cost anything yet each smile is priceless.
Now, if you’re one that struggles with being too serious or feel awkward about smiling more often, here are some friendly tips on how to stress less and smile more.
How to smile more
You can smile while taking a walk, sitting down, baking bread, seeing a friend, dancing in your room, listening to music, jogging out in nature, humming your favourite song, kissing your lover, playing with children. It doesn’t really matter, what matters is that you allow your life to be a little more brighter with the help of an easy, effortless and natural smile.
Here are 10 easy and natural ways to smile more often:
1. Stop taking yourself too seriously
One potentially big factor that’s stopping you from smiling more is that you’re taking yourself and life too seriously. We as adults all know the struggles of life, there are many, but we often get too lost and preoccupied in the hardships and the drama instead of seeing the bigger picture, which inevitably involves some fun and humour as well. This timeless advice by Charlie Chaplin is thus apt to share,
To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it!
2. Smile when you wake up
By smiling when you wake up, you prepare and prime yourself to enjoy a happier day. Try to not wake up surly and moody, allow your mornings to be brighter each day, and there are many ways of doing that, ranging from specific morning products that will lighten up your mood to morning meditations, however the easiest way is simply to smile the instant you wake and regain consciousness from sleep.
3. Think happier thoughts
Oftentimes it’s our negative tendencies that lead us to smiling and enjoying life less. By consciously deciding to be 1% happier each day and think happier thoughts on a regular basis will no doubt help you bust those smiles easier. One smart way to reinforce positive thoughts is to stick post-it-notes featuring people, places or things that make you happy around the house.
4. Say hi to strangers more often
It’s hard to say hi to strangers without accompanying it with a smile of some sort. So start greeting strangers more often when your out and walking and you’ll feel yourself getting lighter and a little bit brighter. Plus you’ll make them feel a little bit better as well, and trust me, we all need that now and then!
5. Do something nice for someone
Go out of your way and do something nice for someone you know or why not a stranger. If you’ve missed your friends and family, take them out on a dinner or buy them flowers. If its a stranger, try opening the door for them or let them skip the queue if they’re in a hurry.
6. Play with your reflection in the mirror
Be playful whenever you see yourself in the mirror. This could mean simply smiling, making a funny face or whatever else that lifts your spirits up a tad. In a way smiling in the mirror tricks our brains, because even though we’re aware at some meta-level that we’re seeing our own reflection, at a deeper level our brain thinks we’re seeing another person in front of us, whose smiling back at us.
7. Reflect on happy and funny memories
I bet you that you’ve had many happy and funny moments in your life. Even though those memories might be long gone and hidden somewhere in your unconscious, with a little effort you could dig them back up and enjoy them once again. Reflect on the good and fun times and you’ll see how easy it is to relive those bright moments.
8. Enjoy a funny movie
There are few things that make you laugh and smile like a really funny movie. Whether its a film that features Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller or Charlie Chaplin, allow yourself the luxury to watch a funny movie now and then.
9. Start being more grateful
Gratitude is an underestimated feeling and emotion that we always have at our disposal. There are many benefits to being more thankful in our lives, for what you have, who you are and how you are. A gratitude journal can help you smile more by giving you the space to appreciate the good things already present in your life.
10. Relax your face
Relax your face and all the muscles that is activated and used when smiling. Sometimes it’s just the tension that has built up in and around your face over the years that keeps you from smiling more. The more relaxed you are, the easier it is for you to bust a smile.
Different types of smiles
Before you exit this article to go out into the world to smile like you’ve never smiled before, we’d like to bring your attention to different types of smiles, i.e. real vs fake smiles and how meditative awareness comes into play in regards to smiling more. The more you’re meditatively aware of yourself, the more you relax, and the more you relax the easier it is for you to smile. Smiling is a natural thing, and if you are conscious and aware when you smile, the greater the relaxation and joy that ensues. This is of course if your awareness is of a meditative quality and not of an ego derived self-obsessive quality.
There is a important difference between these two, mind you!
Meditative awareness simply means that you aren’t too attached to the thoughts, projections and ideas circulating in your head about life, while egoic attention means exactly the opposite; you’re thoroughly invested, identified and attached to the thoughts and projections.
Now… you don’t have to be an experienced meditator or a spiritual individual to know which of the two would most likely result in more frequent and genuine smiles.
Genuine vs fake smiles
That being said, this inevitably brings us to the topic of real vs. fake smiles. Now be careful of the latter, the ingenuine smiles because they actually do quite the opposite, they make you tense instead of loose, rigid instead of soft, predictable instead of spontaneous, surly instead of gentle. Some would say fake it till you make it, but we don’t advise that here. Rather our advice is to get to know yourself instead, know yourself to such a degree where any occurence of fakeness is detected, understood and dissolved through meditative awareness!
Well you might say, if one is aware of one’s own smiling, doesn’t that automatically make it feel fake, unnatural and ingenuine? Our reply would be similar to that which we just wrote, namely that by being meditatively aware instead of egoicly aware is key and therein lies the answer that you’re looking for.
Thus our final tip on how to start smiling more often is to start a daily meditation practice and start being more mindful each and everyday. Cultivate your awareness of the breath, of the senses, of the thoughts and everything in between, and witness yourself bloom from within.
This world is all too stressed out and modern man is a prisoner of his own tense reality. The mature individual senses this intuitively and decides then to take action or revamp herself. Busting a smile happens to be the one of the easiest, most affordable, natural and effortless ways of doing this. So smile my friend and feel your body, mind and heart relax into the easiness and natural flow of life.