Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Why smiling is good for you

When I was younger, I would consistently make fun of my mother for smiling so much. My mother--if you do not know her--has one of the biggest, brightest, most beautiful smiles that could warm your heart and turn your day around. I would tell her that she smiles too much and sarcastically ask why. Despite the ups and downs that my mother has had in her life, you'd never be able to tell because she always looks happy...and I mean ALWAYS. Through trials and tribulations, through her recent encounter with Breast Cancer and through the crappiest of times she has kept that smile on her face. When I was younger, I didn't understand why.

(Awkward transition...)

Several weeks ago, there was a whirlwind of craziness with assignments due for Grad school and tests that needed to be graded and feedback from my kids about the way I teach. By the end of it, I was feeling so overwhelmed I just wanted to scream. And I did scream--well, get loud--at my 3rd period Geometry class for taking life as a joke when most of them are failing simply because they weren't even trying. Funny thing is, shortly before that moment where I had to get loud with them, one of my students said, "Look, she's smiling. No one piss her off." Surprisingly enough (not really that surprising at all), they managed to piss me off. Now, if you have kids or work with kids I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about. It's that calm before the storm that's made up of chatty students and an overflow of feelings coming from within; and it's not pretty.

By the time my next class came in I was just done. When my class decided to break out into unnecessary conversation while I was talking I just stood there silently, with little expression. I wasn't pulling off the "I'll wait til y'all are quiet" technique, but instead was doing it to keep myself from losing it. I thought I was going to have a melt down when one of my students started talking to me for no particular reason other than the fact that it was her that I was standing by. This girl always has a smile on her face, so that plus the fact that not all of my students were being chatty made me feel a bit better. I started to smile a little (because, c'mon, you can't help but smile when someone else is smiling), and with that smile came a sense of comfort and ease.

Now, going back to my mother. In recent years, and in recent days, I understand more and more why she smiled, and still smiles, so damn much: it calms you. With that, here are all the reasons why I think smiling is THE BEST:

1. It's contagious! You can't help but smile when some clown is cheesing at you. No matter how upset or frustrated I am with someone or a situation, if someone else is smiling at me (even if I don't know them) then I'm done--game over.

2. It's calming. There's no better way to help relieve a bit of stress on the spot than smiling. It feels like a weight has been lifted off of your shoulders and you can finally breathe. When I use to work retail and would have customers get on my last nerve, I would simply smile and nod my head. There's no sense in getting worked up over something so small.

3. Basically, it's good for your soul. Too many times I've been caught smiling at some stupid thought I had or at something I was reading, when I look up and see someone looking at me and smiling. How awesome is it to be enjoying yourself and then see someone else getting joy out of whatever it is you're doing (even if it is acting a fool). It feels damn good!

4. It makes you look more attractive. Who wants to look at a person frowning all day? NOT ME! Smiling draws people in, makes them want to get to know you and bask in your presence. Frowning and resting beezy face just makes people want to steer clear of you. I would know, I've suffered from it for many years.

5. It's good for your health. Not only is a good stress reliever, but it can lower your blood pressure, boost your immune system and releases endorphins. You can feel better just by smiling!

6. It changes your mood. There have been countless times when I have been having a debate with Clark that makes a wrong turn and I just want to be mad at him (I know, I'm childish). When I look at him I can't help but smile (I know, we're cute ;P) and all of a sudden I don't feel angry or mad anymore. I absolutely hate it (because sometimes, I just want to be mad), but I feel so much better about life once I turn that frown upside down.

7. It helps you stay positive. When I volunteered with City Year New York, I had a wonderfully challenging group of students. They were my pride and joy, but it was definitely rough. When I'd get frustrated I couldn't help but smile (a tactic that unknowingly became accustomed to me). My students would get so confused because I would tell them something, which would be contradicted by me smiling. Let me tell you something though, it sure as hell made me a pretty positive person on my team who didn't see me get really frustrated until we were well into the second semester. Smiling just seemed to make all the difficult things better.

So, I say to you, give smiling a try. Turn that frown upside down and boogie til your booty hits the ground! There are a million things wrong in the world, but your smile is that one thing that could make it all right.

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