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Make a Choice to Smile

From the Monday Mission, May 4, 2020

Raise your hand if you are ready for regular life to resume.

My exercise class, which is now on Zoom, is really tough (for me). It’s like Pilates, a lot of strengthening and stretching, and it’s often painful. Several times in each class I find myself saying to myself, “Are you really paying for this? What is wrong with you?”

To make matters worse, the instructor often says, “Keep your smile on.” He kids you not. He wants you to smile while you hold squats and your thighs quiver like Jell-O. Is he cruel? Nope, there’s actually some science behind this. Smiling happens to be really good for you.

In fact, your Monday Mission is to smile. 🙂

Here is a little science to back me up…

“So what is going on in our brains when we smile? Imagine we are in a pleasant situation, like bumping into an old friend on the metro. When our brains feel happy, endorphins are produced and neuronal signals are transmitted to your facial muscles to trigger a smile. This is the start of the positive feedback loop of happiness. When our smiling muscles contract, they fire a signal back to the brain, stimulating our reward system, and further increasing our level of happy hormones, or endorphins. In short, when our brain feels happy, we smile; when we smile, our brain feels happier.

Thanks to the positive feedback loop of smiling, we can alter our brain’s emotional processing pathway to feel happier with a simple smile.” Start by doing it now, try it on, and see how it feels.

If it feels a little like this, that’s okay.

For the rest of the week, when you notice you are feeling down or stressed, I want you to make a choice to smile, even if you are all alone! Your week may not naturally feel good or smile-worthy. You can wait around to feel better, and feel pretty dumpy in the meantime. Or you can do something to try to turn the tide.

Smiling is the easiest thing we can do to start feeling more positive.

Let’s start with a simple prayer…

Thank you God for always providing for me even when I can’t see it or feel it. Help me to step bravely into the future,  to choose joy when things feel difficult. Please fill me with your hope and joy today. Amen.


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