I would normally consider myself to be a half-full gal. I try, for the most part, to look on the positive or funny side of things and it usually works. However, there are those unfortunate moments when I am overcome by a deafening roar of the half-empties. Stress and anxiousness or (gosh I hate saying this) PMS can rear its stressful head and I am sinking on the floor in a heap of everything sucks. Those are the afternoons when it doesn’t even matter that San Francisco is glowing brightly with warm sunshine (even in the Sunset) or that my boyfriend thinks I’ve lost weight or that there is a marathon of Desperate Housewives on Bravo. I know, don’t make fun, it is my guilty addiction.
On those days, it seems as if nothing will make me feel better.
My sweet boyfriend always tries to make me feel better by saying, “It’s fine honey, just relax.” This unfortunately has about as much effect as him saying, “Quick, get under the table, it’s an earthquake.”
Why is it that the second someone says, relax or calm down or how can you possibly be so miserable when there are starving people in Africa, I just feel worse. Yes, I know there are starving people and more people who are way more stressed out than me and now I feel like a horrible person for being upset when I am clearly not starving. Trying to be positive when you are feeling blue can be a real struggle and so I have developed a very classified, highly scientific method for keeping my cup full of goodness.
Okay, it’s not very scientific or classified and frankly reading back over this page it seems ever so slightly cheesy. But who doesn’t love a slice of cheese? Hell, even lactose intolerant people crave it every now and then. So lay on the fromage. Try it, go ahead, smile right now; a big toothy grin. It’s okay, no one is looking at you. Smile at your computer as if you just read a funny email. How do you feel? Did it make you feel even a tiny bit better? Or would rather I just shut up with my self-help flower power and go to &%##! It’s cool, whatever gets your grin.
Interestingly, this whole idea of smiling for happiness is indeed scientific. Research has been done on the effects of facial expressions and how they trigger the brain. There was a specific study done by Levinson, Ekman, and Frieson that found making certain expressions was causing involuntary biological changes. They tested the facial expressions of anger, sadness, fear, disgust, happiness, and surprise. Turns out that the face you make can help determine how you feel. So, if you want to feel happier, less stressed, more relaxed, and better about yourself; smile! It certainly can’t hurt. Let’s try it all week, shall we? Every time you start to feel stressed or moody or upset, smile. See if it changes your mood. If it does, awesome! If it doesn’t, well you’re no worse off than you were before and at least you’re being proactive.
I say let’s try smiling at other people, too. I know that when someone passes me on the street and smiles, it’s contagious. I smile back and I feel happy. Why not make your house the cheesiest place ever. Let’s smile so much this week that our cheeks get a work out. I am starting right now.