There is a tradition on the Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Blog. Every Monday, I cite a quote or a poem that is related to mindfulness and psychotherapy in some way and then explore it a bit and how it is relevant to our lives. For me, quotes and poetry can often sink me into a state of greater understanding. So for today, here is a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh:
“A tiny bud of a smile on your lips nourishes awareness and calms you miraculously…your smile will bring happiness to you and those around you.”
Back in September I wrote a blog post called Living Without Joy? Thich Nhat Hanh Shares a Secret. Because of the activity surrounding this blog post I thought it was good to bring back up if you missed it, but to also deepen our awareness about not only how our bodies influence our minds (i.e., how smiling can influence our moods), but how we influence one another.
Just think about if everyone you knew walked around with their bodies tense and a grimace and a frown on their face. Let’s say they never really said a word to you, but you had to be around this. How would you feel? You’re mood would likely be influenced by this and you might even start acting like them.
If people walked around you with a sense of calm, smiling at times and with a genuine care to wish you well, you would likely feel a different vibe (note: these people are not walking around with perma-smiles or a Pollyanna nature, but a genuine nature).
At the base of it all, we all want to be cared about and understood. Intentionally smiling at someone is about really wishing them well in this world.
We can do this with friends, family, strangers, and yes, even those who we are having difficulty with.
Here are a few steps to try this out this experiment today (Warning: This could be contagious)
- Try the half-smile experiment – to notice how this affects you physically and your mood
- Imagine it – Think of a person you will likely run into today. Get in touch with the kind intention to really wish them well, to be happy, to be free from fear, to be at ease. This can be a teacher, friend, colleague or an acquaintance for now. Picture them in your mind as you say these well wishes to them.
- Make it real life – As you walk by them today, smile at them, remembering your well wishes (Note: if you are feeling particularly depressed and this doesn’t feel right for you at this time, that is fine, and I encourage you to revisit it another time).
At the end of the day, this could be helpful for feeling stressed, blue, anxious, relationship problems, and more. Try it out as an experiment without expecting miracles (note: expecting miracles is usually a mind trap which leads to quick negative judgment and the practice often won’t get a fair shake).
As always, please share your experiences, questions, and comments below. Your interactions provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.