I know, I know. It’s tacky and cheesy. Most of us, if not all of us have heard that if you just force yourself to smile, you automatically feel better. I guess maybe it works a little bit. But a lot of us live in a world of chronic pain or mental or physical illness that don’t necessarily take to these often-ableist feel-good hacks. Also, for women, “Smile!” as a command aligns with the misogyny we experience and it’s just gross.
Yet, yesterday, when I did my morning journal, for my daily objective, I found myself writing the word, “smile.”
It was because my dog, who is living her last weeks (or days) with a brain tumor, woke me up. Lately, I wake up first and go downstairs to make coffee and wait for her to open her eyes so I can encourage her to have her morning pee and breakfast. But yesterday, she did what she used to do when I sleep past 8: she stomped around on the landing at the bottom of the stairs (she hasn’t been able to use stairs in a couple years) to wake me up. She was so alert and perky and herself, I couldn’t help but smile.
I’ve never used the word “smile” as my daily objective before, but I was inspired!
It was great.
When I started thinking negative thoughts, I stopped myself, smiled, and thought of more pleasant things.
When I was doing chores, I came up with what I was grateful for in the moment, such as the food I ate off those dishes I was washing, or the better lawnmower I now have to cut that grass, and I smiled.
When I went for a bike ride, I smiled at the people I passed. They smiled back!
I sought out moments to make myself smile, like walking around my garden and smiling at the newly-bloomed tulips that I didn’t even plant.
When deciding what to do in the fading hours of my evening, I asked myself, “What will make me smile?” and I picked a fun new movie to watch, and even though it wasn’t amazing, I made sure I smiled whenever possible.
I had a very nice day yesterday. I smiled a lot.
I am well aware that there are some days that this just wouldn’t work. Some days I actually need to go full-on into the gloom just to get it out of my system. Some days I simply feel awful and that’s just how it’s going to be.
But some days, with a little nudge and inspiration, it is totally easy to smile, and I look forward to choosing more smile days in the future.
And I highly recommend you try a smile day, too.