Today is World Smile Day (1st October 2021) and it doesn’t take much to make me smile. A sunny day, some upbeat music or remembering something a friend said can trigger a grin. If something has really tickled me then I can smile and have a chuckle over and over again weeks later! Of course there are days that we all have when a smile is harder to find but one thing I can always count on at times like these are my kids.
Children have an ability to always find the fun, finding something positive in any situation and creating your own mood, rather than allowing others or circumstances to choose your mood for you is a skill that is beneficial to everyone. So here are some tips for finding a smile and keeping a positive outlook.
Start with gratitude:
No matter how bad you may feel physically or how dire your circumstances are, there is always something to be grateful for. It can be something general like a sunny day or something more personal like the fact that your family are safe and well. It could be the roof over your head or maybe that you are having a good hair day! No matter how big or small your blessings, they are there somewhere – if you look for them.
Be in the moment:
You can’t truly experience happiness if you’re off elsewhere in your mind or rushing around ‘doing’ – not ‘being’. Mindfulness is a skill that takes practise but it’s worth practising. The easiest way to achieve mindfulness is to focus on your breathing. Take long, slow breaths in and out and bring your mind to the breath. When you find your mind wandering to other things (because it will!) just catch yourself and bring it back to the breath. Set yourself an alarm if it helps you to focus on the space. Say to yourself that for 10 minutes there is nowhere you need to be but here and nothing else you need to do. I love my weekly yoga class for this regular practise at being mindful.
Positive self talk:
If your inner dialogue is largely negative or critical, it won’t be as easy for you to spot the joy all around. Make a decision that you will release any negative self talk – who says you have to pay attention to it? That inner voice can be encouraging or it can be belittling – it’s your inner voice, therefore it’s your choice. No-one puts that voice there but you, so choose for your ‘default setting’ to be positive. You are a good person aren’t you? You always try your best don’t you? So have your inner voice say these things to you – rather than the bad. If you’re struggling to think of something positive to say about yourself, go back to gratitude. You’ll find something there. Do you have two legs that work? That get you from A to B? Then you are strong. That’s a positive to come from your gratitude for a working body. Happiness and positivity are a choice. It’s not always easy to choose them but ask yourself – what’s the worst that can happen if you do? Your day might just get better. This isn’t about toxic positivity or victim blaming. But we are more powerful than we give ourselves credit for, so be gentle with yourself and give it a try.
Keep on keeping on:
Doing the first three steps on a regular, consistent basis will help this way of being to become more natural. When we do something new – adopt new thought processes, new neural pathways in your brain are formed that ultimately broaden your mind and make it easier for you to continue to act and react in this way. It is exhausting at first – like learning to drive. Remember how you had to think about every little thing and you’d be tired after the lesson but with practise you built up the skills and you got to a stage where you just did it without even thinking about it. It became a habit. Popular theory says it takes 21 days to break a bad habit or build a new one, so stick with it. When these new thought processes become habitual, it’ll take more to knock you. You build resilience.
I really hope you are smiling today on World Smile Day but if not then give my tips a go and let me know how you get on.
The next World Smile Day is on Friday 7 October 2022.