"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones." (Proverbs 15:30)
Seriously, can merely smiling actually increase your JQ (Joy Quotient)? The answer, apparently, is yes. There's tons of research on this topic now, in the fields of neuroscience and psychology. Apparently, just putting a big grin on your face (note: it has to be the kind of grin that actually gives you "crows feet" around your eyes) stimulates various processes in the brain, both chemical and neurological, that results in an uplift in mood (and health!), even if just for a second! Even if it's FAKE!
Go ahead, give yourself a gift right now: Smile really big at the screen! :) There ... you may not have felt it, but just that sheer "act" has done your body good. (Not to mention, those who have to look at your face all day long!)
Now, we sometimes struggle with this. We don't want to be fake. We want to keep it real. Authentic. And we seem, at times, to behave (and believe) like distress and dissatisfaction and angst are more authentic expressions than gratitude and joy. As if venting our worst possible thoughts and feelings is somehow more "real" than venting our best possible thoughts and feelings.
And I get that. I really do. Emotional authenticity is a huge value for us in the terranova community. And we sure don't desire or intend to become fake, smiley, "shiny happy people."
So our "homework" this week, our challenge for 7 days, was to simply SMILE! and Laugh! But don't do it as a way of avoiding your own emotions, or avoiding honesty. Do it instead in defiance! Be real with yourself about the challenges and pains of your life. But then, in defiance, choose to be grateful and joyful. And in that spirit of defiance, "put on a happy face."
Stick that smiley button somewhere conspicuous. And then, everytime you see it (or think of it) wipe a big ole grin across your face. Do it right now (again)!