Nourish relationships and self-care

Empathy works. It always does.

Smile therapy

4 Comments

Have you ever heard of smile therapy?

I hadn’t.

So I invented it.

Throughout the day I bring my attention to my facial expression and invite myself to smile. You wouldn’t notice the difference probably, my smile is fainter than that of the Mona Lisa, but I do.

Image courtesy to theartofchildhood.files.wordpress.comJust inviting a smile changes my experience. I soften and open up.

The Second Mindfulness Training “True Happiness” says: “I am aware that happiness depends on my mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that I can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy.”

So here I am, disappointed that I didn’t make the money I wanted, sad that my friend didn’t call back, scared that my parents will die this year, angry that the driver in front of me cut me off, and I notice the corners of my mouth turn downward in dissatisfaction with what life offers me.

And I start smiling.

I look around in my experience and notice this cognitive dissonance between my inner experience and my outer expression. Something isn’t right. I can’t have unpleasant feelings and smile at the same time. One of the two has to change to establish a sense of alignment and integrity. And since I am devoted to my smile therapy, it’s gonna be my experience.

Instead of holding on to my anger, disappointment, jealousy, grudge, or self-righteous indignation, I start searching for things I can smile about. What can I appreciate in this moment that aligns with my smile? Maybe it is the sun on my arms, or the mockingbird singing? Or the relief that we still live in our beloved house? Or the fact that my headache is gone? Or the joy of my Compassionate Communication Group last Monday?

And you know what?

It is super easy to find something to be grateful for.

Thich Nhat Hanh is right: I have more than enough conditions to be happy.

—–

You want help to find things you can be appreciative of? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary discovery session.

Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping compassionate professionals integrate self-care in their lives. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

4 thoughts on “Smile therapy

  1. Thank you for posting that! I needed to hear your description about the cognitive dissonance created when our inner experience and outer expression are not aligned. I’ve experienced that and your words articulated it for me. Thank you!

    Hope to see you next month in Arlington! Take care…

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  2. First of all Miss Elly, I think you have a beautiful smile! So funny that you had this blog this day. Last night we lost one of our foster kittens. He was adorable. His name was Avery. Orange and beautiful. Sometimes it just happens. Very say. I felt a loss and sat in bed and tried to draw my mind to a better time. I thought of my story, and other stories to write, but Avery was still in the back of my mind. I was awake and decided to check your blog, and I’m glad I did. The message was too prefect. After reading your blog I then decided to go play with the other foster kittens. I found my smile come back watching them play and run around the house. I look out doors and see rain clouds, which I love. I look around my home and know that I have a loving family. I see my older cats and hold on to my beloved Maine Coon Rough Rider Roosevelt. I have plenty to smile about this day Miss Elly. Your blog help me through a long night. Thank you. Love and Peace.

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