Do people smile because they are happy? Or, are people happy because they smile? These questions get to the heart of life after 60. Of course, both statements are true. Smiles are a reflection of how we feel. But, at the same time, happiness requires conscious effort. We cannot wait for happiness to come to us. We must look for happiness in every situation. In the case of smiles, this is literally true. The more we smile, the easier it gets.
Before we continue, take a moment to become aware of your mouth. As you think about smiling, can you feel the corners of your mouth lifting upwards? Can you imagine how your eyes look when they sparkle in the light of your inner-happiness? How do you feel when you smile?
Happiness comes from three kinds of smiles. Smiles aimed at life, smiles aimed at ourselves and smiles aimed at others. Let’s explore each of these.
Life after 60 is often hard, but, it is softened with every smile. Some people are born smiling. We all know men and women who can light up a room with their natural radiance. If you are one of these lucky people, you know how a smile can shape the world around you. If not, don’t worry. Smiling is not an unconscious reflection of some ineffable quality within us; it is a habit that can be learned with practice.
So, how can you learn to smile? The first step is to believe that smiling is a skill. Understanding this simple fact is half of the battle. Next, look for opportunities to smile in every situation.
Every event in our lives can be views from multiple perspectives. When you smile, you force your mind to see the humor in the mundane or unpleasant.
The next time you spill your drink, try smiling at your own clumsiness. When your grandchild asks you an inappropriate question, smile at their innocence. Every cloud has a silver lining. But, silver linings are only visible to those who choose to see them. How do you react to life’s little adversities? Do you frown at your bad luck? Or, do you smile and look for the humor in the epic comedy of life?
It’s easy to say “smile at life’s misfortunes”. It’s another thing to actually do it. Sometimes, we need to practice by ourselves before we feel comfortable sharing our smile with the world. How comfortable are you with your smile? Does it feel natural when you smile?
Find some time today to look through your picture albums. Can you see the difference between your genuine smile and your posed smile? Genuine smiles come from within. When we smile genuinely, our entire face is involved. Practice smiling at yourself in the mirror. Have fun with it. Practice different kinds of smiles.
Think of different events in your life that make you happy. How many different smiles do they create? How do you smile when you think about your high school graduation… an embarrassing moment… your favorite joke?
The important thing is to see your smile as a natural extension of your emotions. It is something to be proud of. It is a reflection of how you feel about your life. If you love life with your entire being, teach yourself to smile with your whole face.
As you become more comfortable with your smile, don’t keep it to yourself. Share it with the world. There is a song that says, “When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.” And that is true! Smiles are contagious. They are happiness triggers that put the people around us at ease and make the process of making friends easier.
Unfortunately, because smiles are a reflection of our emotions, we are often reluctant to share them with others. We may fear that our smile will push others away. Or, we may think that our smile is unattractive. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Smiles are immensely seductive. The trick is to give your happiness to the world without expecting anything in return.
Every day is filled with opportunities to project your happiness into the world. Smile at the man who serves you coffee at Starbucks. Smile genuinely at the woman whose child is crying at the supermarket. You’ve been there, after all. Can you think of the last time you gave someone a genuine smile?
Learning to smile improves our relationship with the world, ourselves and others. But, not all smiles are created equal.
It is not enough to go through the physical motions of smiling. Genuine smiles come from the gratitude that we feel for our lives.
It is much easier to produce friendly, easygoing, genuine smiles when you love what you do, love the people around you and appreciate the gift of life that you have been given.
Think about one thing that you are truly grateful for. Now hold that thought in your heart and feel a genuine smile spreading over your radiant, beautiful face.
Spend five minutes thinking about a recent event that made you happy. Really try to imagine all of the scents, sights and sounds that surround that event. As you remember, feel the smile spreading across your face. Pay attention to what it feels like to smile genuinely. Lock this feeling into your memory for future smiles!
What makes you smile? Do you agree that smiling is one of the secrets to getting more from life after 60? Why or why not? Please join the conversation.