Me: Knock. Knock. You: Who’s there? Me: Abraham Lincoln. You: Abraham Lincoln who?
Me: Wait! You don’t know who Abraham Lincoln is?!
I hope I made you smile with a bit of Presidents Day humor. Lots of things in life can make us feel powerless or sad. In an effort to cheer you and I both up, I’m following up last week’s post, The Power of a Compliment, with The Power of a Smile. Once again, a little girl at the mall surprised and inspired me. As Dave and I were passing a young mother with her cute-as-a-button toddler, I glanced at the child and exchanged smiles with her mom. Then, the most amazing, joyous smile flashed across the child’s face, one that bordered on laughter, one that delighted both myself and my husband. Like mother, like daughter. 🙂
Here are a few very good reasons to smile.
et the tone. I enjoy reading the Little Golden Book, Little Racoon’s Nighttime Adventure, to the First Graders I visit. Little Racoon is charged with the grown-up duty of bringing home dinner. On his journey, others warn him about The Thing in the Pool and advise that he make a mean face and hold up a stone or stick to show The Thing that he is not afraid. When he does so, Little Racoon sees The Thing acting just as tough. (By now the kid are smiling because they know The Thing is his reflection.) 🙂 When Little Racoon takes his mother’s advice and just smiles, The Thing in the Pool smiles back. And when he laughs, The Thing in the Pool laughs, too! Being friendly wins the day! Little Racoon is no longer afraid and is successful in his quest for crayfish. Our lesson of the day is Winners Walk Tall With a Smile.
An easy lesson that I learned in Respectfully Yours has helped me to set the tone in our home. When my husband arrives home, I make my way to the door and simply greet him by saying hello with a smile. He appreciates the friendly welcome.
ood improves. While it may seem odd or difficult to smile when feeling sad or upset, finding something to smile about will help. Studies have shown that even forcing a smile improves our mood. (Go ahead and try it now.) 🙂 The action of smiling relieves stress, making it easier to think more positively. The more we smile, the more likely our brains are to create happiness loops, enabling us to overcoming the natural, protective pattern of focusing on negatives and to nurture a more positive outlook. (I’ve been listening to some cool lectures about the brain from The Great Courses.) 🙂
mmunity boost. Our church bulletin contained an info-graphic about avoiding the flu. You know the drill – Get vaccinated, Wash your hands, Stay home when sick, Eat right, Exercise, Use hand sanitizer, Don’t touch your face, and the surprise – SMILE, because studies show that it can boost our immune systems. Feeling a bit skeptical, I looked this one up and found another surprise. According to AARP, if you’re feeling happy when you get your flu vaccination, it is more likely to be effective (Remember to smile.) 🙂 One article noted that smiling affects our bodies on a cellular level in a way that can protect us from disease.
ook more attractive. Think about it. Why do we smile for pictures? Are we more attracted to people who look happy or to those who look grumpy? When I try this in the mirror, it seems that I look younger when I smile. Sure, there are some laugh lines showing, but my face gets a lift and my eyes come alive when I smile.
njoy humor. If a smile can do us so much good, imagine what laughter can accomplish! We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine, but do we take it? I confess that since childhood I have taken life pretty seriously. I can’t deny, however, the value of enjoying time with cheerful people, reading a clever cartoon, or watching a funny movie. My self-prescribed medicine is to learn to laugh at myself. I’m serious. My husband tries to make me laugh every day. It usually works when he is reading a comic strip to me, but there’s no guarantee when he employs a bit of teasing. I will give myself credit, however, for having turned what started out as a self criticism into a running joke between us. And for Valentine’s Day, I surprised him with DVDs of the first two seasons of Northern Exposure so we can see if the TV show we laughed at in the early 1990s is still funny.
Me: What do you call a very small Valentine?
You: I don’t know. What?
Me: A Valen-tiny.
I think I’ll try that one on the First Graders today 🙂
Another surprise turned up in my blog post preparation. Just as smiling when we don’t yet feel happy is beneficial, simulating laughter can bring health benefits. At least that is what “laughter Yoga” enthusiasts are claiming. Experts advise that we aim for ten to fifteen minutes of laughter each day. I’d be glad to hear your ideas on how to meet that goal!
A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones. Proverbs 17:22