These days I have love on my brain and happiness in my heart so bear with me as I continue on the love fest. Today’s topic….smiles and a little self love. Nothing causes the kind of smiles that happen when we see a laughing baby. I have this YouTube clip in my favorites and have watched it every once in a while for some time. Whenever I needed a pick me up in the past I would pull up this laughing baby and end up in a pile of giggles. The pure joy and ecstasy experienced in a baby when they are laughing is the same joy that is within all of us except ours is often covered up by fear and sadness. Tears and laughter are very closely connected; like a brother and sister that often are in a sibling rivalry. Laughter can cover up tears, tears can cover up laughter. But when we truly experience a good cry we often find that the giggles come right up to the surface. In the field of psychology we are very comfortable with grief. We revel in the release of grief. We often encourage it; it’s our job to sit with other people’s pain. What we may struggle with is helping our clients laugh which is equally important. Tears are nature’s pain reliever. Both physical and emotional pain are often lessened by a good ole sob fest. After taking numerous trainings in various integrative health practices, I have come to realize that while grieving is important, laughter is possibly the strongest healer we have. Here are the caveats…it’s free, waiting for you to use it and it boosts immunity so it will help keep you out of the doctor’s office. People who laugh freely and often are often healthier. Who doesn’t like less co pays???
Ron Gutman talks about the power of smiling in his Ted talk
He shares that research shows even mimicking a facial expression of an emotion will bring upon that emotion in the mind. Therefore it would seem that “smile therapy” actually can work (Just as it did for the character John Cage in Alley McBeal which was quite possibly the silliest show on television:) Gutman discusses research that shows that whether or not a person could genuinely smile in their yearbook pic was a indicator of their ability to have authentic happiness. The indicators of a genuine smile were the crinkling around the eyes and corners of the mouth turned up. Martin Seligman states in his book “Authentic Happiness” that these muscles are very difficult to control voluntarily and can only be activated by emotion. Seligman calls that smiles absent of the activation of these muscles “Pan American” smiles after flight attendants. Oh you know that smile. Maybe you have given it yourself before. But you can see it a mile away…it’s not a happy look. Subjectively I can say that becoming happier has given me a clear view of people who are not happy. And there are a lot of unhappy people around. The race to the end that I spoke about in my post All You Need is Love, Love, Love….Love is All You Need is causing a whole lot of unhappiness. Making yourself smile may increase feelings of joy but unless we cultivate authentic happiness those fake smiles will not continue to increase our happiness quota. So how do we do that? Well for me, things never really began to shift in a deep way until the shift came within. I laugh often and freely, humor has always come easy, it’s just me. True joy, well that came from creating a loving connection to myself.
Yesterday in meditation I realized that self love is about putting yourself in places where you feel loved and then sharing that love with all you encounter. Last night I had a conversation with some people about this and a discussion came up about how difficult this can be as it calls for strength, courage and clarity. It would seem so simple….do what works, don’t do what doesn’t work. Although this simple concept becomes complicated when fear is blocking our vision. Seeing things clearly makes decisions a snap. It also means you can’t lie to yourself or others. Look through the lens of fear and you will be stuck for days going back and forth. Creating a loving relationship with yourself means that you work towards, step by step, doing things that make you feel love. When you look at all activities, people, places you surround yourself with and ask yourself the question “Does this make me feel good or not so good about myself.” You will then begin to find your way back to your heart. Meditation is key component to being able to calm the storm of fear. Slowing the fluctuations of the mind down will allow hidden emotions to rise and clear. Diet and lifestyle are important as well. Decreasing the “junk” will help you feel better about yourself. This means junk food as well as junk relationships. So those hyper critical folks that cause drama…they have got to go! Decreasing food that causes anxiety like sugar and caffeine will help the mind and body calm and allow your truth to rise to the surface. Getting proper rest and having playtime in your day is equally important. Remember there are things we have in common with that baby up above. He would not be giggling if he ate sugar, got no sleep and above all didn’t receive all that lovin from the people around him. The people we choose to be around can influence how we feel about ourselves.
Self love is about is about becoming whole. Taking the compartmentalized self that I spoke about in my last post cited above and bringing all the parts home. As a reader commented recently on one of my posts…we are all just walking ourselves home. Self love is about coming back to our heart. In order to have a heart filled with love that spills over, we need to fill it first. This may sound a little therapisty but it’s true. If you don’t love yourself, you will not be able to create authentic loving relationships with others. So go ahead give yourself a hug, have some fun and above all……LOVE:)