Are You Smiling?

The soft pattering of rain hits against the roof. I pour myself a cup of coffee and revel in that first sip… but the dog is barking outside. Not Biggie, it’s Creed…again.

I throw the door open and notice that our sweet dog has decided to make the trash his new play thing.

Diapers and anything food related has turned into confetti that litters the lawn. He watches as I assess the damage, waiting for his punishment. He bolts when I call his name. Our neighbor begins to drive down her driveway and Creed also decides that now is the best time to visit them. He barks and runs towards them. He acts like a brand new dog that has never seen the light of day, all because someone forgot to shut the gate. These neighbors have called animal control on us and I doubt this day will be any different.

Another neighbor drives by with a wave, palm held up against the steering wheel. She looks forward, not noticing what surrounds me while I yell at my dog with the least amount of obscenities to get the fork back here. He isn’t listening. I show him a doggie treat and he comes bounding towards me, don’t worry folks, I didn’t give him the treat.

I come back in to grab a garbage bag and discover that my independent two year old has taken it upon herself to pour a generous cup of orange juice for herself and her little sister. They dance in and around the orange puddle as if they are summoning the OJ gods to deliver more of this goodness into into their sticky hands and feet.

Are you smiling yet?

Picture yourself for a moment in my shoes. Did that scene make you smile or frown? Did it make your blood pressure rise?

These instances occurred over the course of a month or even two, but my creative mind rolled it all into one awesome morning scenario. When I think how things could have been worse, it makes those individual life occurrences much less intense.

These are moments that will pass and a very big thankforkinggoodness they do. I’m learning how to smile through it.

There is so much more smile about, am I right or am I right?

Take a minute to write down the things that bring a genuine smile to your face.

Truth be told, there are some days, I don’t want to smile, but I feel like that’s when I need to do it the most.

That one class I’m taking…statistics. It does not bring a smile to a face. Most of the time, I’m looking at formulas and YouTube videos with my lips downturned and a constant look of confusion. But if it wasn’t for the class I wouldn’t be able to share with you something I learned.

How about now?

Doesn’t talking about it make it easier to do? Have you heard of The Duchenne Smile? I didn’t know it had an actual name. You’ve heard about embracing the suck, right? I used that as a a mantra on hard running days. When embracing that suck, I smiled. I smiled big until my brain felt it. I smiled at the trees, the sky, and the ground.

If I am having a particular taxing day and my husband says, “Smile.” Do you know what I want to do in response? I’ve got some pride, maybe it’s more inflated on other days, so what I really want to do is go ballistic. I want to throw a fit and curse. Of course, my initial reaction depends on how into my feelings I am. I could go on frowning when it would be so much easier to give in and just smile for goodness sakes. I imagine I look like that Merryweather. You know the blue fairy godmother from the old old Sleeping Beauty Disney cartoon. I am pretty stubborn.

When I don’t let up, he adds, “Smile like you mean it.” I smile with my teeth showing, but it looks more like this: 😬

At this point I want to ride my broom and tell him all the reasons I don’t want to smile, but he’s not one for hearing excuses. He’s so flippin’ right and Lord help me when he is. It’s his chance to wallow in his rightness. I’ll allow it, because I know I do the same thing when the tables are turned.

It’s usually not my best smile and more times than others it is the LAST thing I want to do, but somehow it changes my mood to a lighter one.

Studies have shown that if you smile like you mean it, the kind of smile that reaches your eyes, it will raise your mood. It’s referred to as the Duchenne Smile.

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Own that Duchenne Smile and make it a part of your daily routine. Smile around your family during times you normally wouldn’t. They might think you’re psychotic, but they’ll get over it.

Try it and notice how it can change your mood and theirs. Give it a week or even a day and let me know how it goes. I look forward to hearing from you.