I have recently been incredibly inspired by an absolute soldier of a woman smiling hard through all her adversity. And I had to share because smiling (and prayer) helps me get through a lot of the bad times too.
- Smile. We all know it is important to smile through the hard times as well as the good. I try to remember that life is not simply about how you handle your good times, but ‘a person’s true character is often revealed in times of crisis or temptation. Make sure that you have what it takes to be your best in such times.’ And if smiling is too hard, then just fake it ‘til you make it.
Smiling will become habit, this good habit will become part of your good character, and your good character will be a true reflection of an inner peace you will begin to feel each time you smile. When everything is going right in your life, of course you’re going to be the happiest person in the world, hashtagging #blessed and #ThankYouLord on Twitter, and smiling like the Cheshire Cat. True character is proven when you’re backed up against a corner, yet you can remain calm and keep punching through with a smile on your face. Or at least, the majority of the time. I’m not going to lie, I have my many moody moments, but I try to ensure that smiling occurs 90% of the time (that’s clearly a made-up percentage!) It makes the rough times smoother.
- Another great thing about smiling is that you avoid this persistent question: ‘what’s wrong?’ If you haven’t realized already, that question does not help in the slightest. In fact, it increases the strength and the capacity of the pity party you’re throwing. As many things as you are miserable about right now, you can probably find just as many things (or at least one thing) to smile about too. It rarely helps to dwell on your worries and woes – unless you are aiming to focus on a solution as well**. ‘What’s wrong?’ immediately brings you back to the negative situation. It makes you think about the problem, and if you choose to answer, it also makes you talk about it too. Which to the right person or people is absolutely perfect, but when everybody you walk by – acquaintances, friends, colleagues – ask and get you back on to this negative trend of thought, then it becomes a greater problem. Smile in public, cry it out at home with a select few friends and loved ones who can help you. Misery loves company, but not everybody loves your misery. (Harsh but true!)
- Smiling on the outside helps you smile on the inside. Smiling induces positivity. If you don’t believe me, think about a person or a thing that can make you laugh no matter what. You always wonder why, but the truth is that even when you’re down, there is that person or thing that puts a smile on your face, and in those moments your worries are placated. I can’t remember where or when or who told me this ‘fact’ but when you smile – even a forced one – it changes your inner being. It has an effect not just on a physical level, but a physiological one as well. It is the same premise used in breathing control techniques that change your biology on a physiological, then an emotional and psychological level enabling you to handle pressured situations in a calmer and less scatter-brain manner (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q06YIWCR2Js). Don’t take my word for it. Give it a try yourself right now!
- ‘Smile and the world smiles with you.’ We all know this one, and it is the absolute truth. When I’m feeling on top of the world it is incredible how this positively affects everybody around me. I’m not speaking in hyperbole either. The reverse is also true. One lovely lass in my WAC training group often turns up to training with a smile on her face and wonderful energy; another lad is absolutely insane (in a good way) and his crazy hyperness has everybody in giggles and laughter bouncing off his jokes. It instantly makes me perk up even when I’m feeling down, at least whilst around them. Positivity is infectious – in a good way, of course!
**Other practical advice I recently heard and adore:
Think about a problem you are experiencing and then write down ten specific action steps that you can take to resolve or improve the negative situation. Oftentimes we focus too heavily on the problem, when a solution may be a few hurdles ahead of us. (T. Harv. Eker)
IMPORTANT NOTE: Sadness and depression are clearly not the same thing. I’m not advocating this as a cure-all for depression.