SMILE! God Damn You!
Why have I entitled this post as if I where shouting? Because I am! If we could all smile just that little bit more then the world would be a lot better place. Yes I know we’ve all heard the tired old cliche that it takes fewer muscles to smile than it does to frown but smiling really can lift your spirits! Now I hear the sceptics among you crying out “How the hell can the movement of a few small muscles in your face have any effect on your mood?”
Ok, indulge me in a little exercise:
- Read right through this so you know what you’re supposed to be doing.
- Close your eyes and think of a particularly sad time in your life.
- Really notice everything about the memory, see what you can see, hear what you can hear and really FEEL everything about the memory.
- Once you’ve got that, attempt to smile. Give it a good go… with all your effort SMILE!
Now one of two things will have happened. Either the memory you recalled was so powerful or sad that its lead to a complete inability to smile, or the power of your smile has made it intensely difficult to access the memory and it’s dissipated! Usually the latter happens, but it really doesn’t matter which as its proven the point. The power of a smile really is amazing!
So why does this amazing example of the mind-body link happen? The mind indexes memories by emotion. It doesn’t do it on a timeline or alphabetically, but by emotion. If you think about it, of course this is what happens as we had no knowledge of time or the alphabet when we were conceived (and yes memory goes back that far). So when we start filing our earliest memories we have to do it at the most basic level. Emotion. When I asked you to recall a particularly sad time in your life, your sub-conscious went to the box labelled “Sad Memories” and started to rummage. That box has got nothing whatsoever to do with smiling, an action attached to the “Happy Box”. Thus the mind finds it incongruous to smile while recalling something sad. One of them has to give, either the smile, or the memory.
So as you go about your business in the days and weeks to come, remember the power of a smile and if you’re feeling sad, out-of-sorts or even annoyed, do just that:
A smile is infectious, so I also think you’ll find you’ll lift the spirits of those around you too. Don’t smile like a loon though. This might get you arrested!