The Art of Smiling

Smiling is definitely one of the best beauty remedies. If you have a good sense of humor and a good approach to life, that’s beautiful.

Rashida Jones

Do you smile often? Do you love to laugh? I smile a lot, I love to laugh, I love to laugh so much my stomach hurts and I love when my laugh is contagious to others. I have been always like this, maybe it is in my genes because I am from Colombia, everybody in my country loves to smile, laugh, and to be happy.  Colombia is said to be the happiest country in the world for a reason! I have two sisters and a brother, and we grew up laughing about everything and anything, to this day we still do except now it is on the phone. Even though we all live in different countries we manage to keep the humor despite the distance, sometimes I feel that my husband thinks I am crazy when he hears me on video calls laughing for hours and hours. Unfortunately, life is difficult at times, even when we think everything is fine, something will come up to surprise us. We never know how strong we are until strong is our only option!

When you smile and laugh you have the power to relieve anxiety and boost your mood. Smiling helps to release our happy hormones commonly known as endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. When we are happy our body releases these hormones, and it directly calms our mind and body. I know there are times when it’s hard to smile and even more difficult to laugh, but if we try it, can make us feels better. Last year has proven to be a difficult year for all of us with the stress and the effects of COVID. I was not an exception. My husband got really sick, he had two heart surgeries and over a dozen cardioversions, at some point, I thought he was not going to make it. I was very stressed but at the same time, I needed to be strong for him and for both of us. It was hard to go through all this without any family and barely any friends because of COVID. My family couldn’t fly from Colombia, and my friends couldn’t give me company due to COVID restrictions.

My husband had his first surgery on a Friday, I was waiting patiently for over 5 hours trying to maintain positive feelings about his situation.  His surgeon finally came out and told me we needed to wait until the next day to make sure the surgery was successful. I was not allowed to stay with my husband which made me even more stressed. Saturday comes and I was excited to go see him, it was also my birthday and all I wanted was to hear good news. I got to the hospital and still remember my husband’s face, his surgery was not successful. We were both sad and worried about what was coming next. A friend called me and offered to take me out for lunch. I desperately needed to get out of the hospital and breathe some fresh air.  I remember hugging my friend and crying. I then told her I want it to laugh, I needed to think about something funny to release all my stress. And we did, as weird as this sounds, laughing in that moment of panic, of uncertainty, and mostly of sadness, made me feel more centered and ready to deal with whatever was coming next. I returned to the hospital, and I felt more relaxed, of course laughing is not going to take your problems away, but it is a mechanism that we can use to ease our emotions and to help us with our anxiety. Luckily, my husband recovered, and now after a year and a half he is healthy and happy.

When I feel a little down or anxious about something, I just smile and focus on people and memories that make me happy. It really works, just the gesture of a smile on your face changes your attitude. It is as simple as putting on a happy face! There are many articles explaining how smiling releases stress and anxiety, enhances positive emotions, one’s immune system, helps with circulation and also reduces the risk of heart disease. Jane Plant, a chief scientific advisor to the British Government explained “smiling is a way of tricking your brain into thinking everything is ok, even if is not.” Facial movements can really have an effect on your emotional experience. So next time that you are stressed out or that you are going through a difficult moment, take a big breath or two and remember to smile, try to laugh, help yourself feel relaxed so you can have a clear mind to make decisions. Smiling is free, is contagious, and is worthwhile. Were you aware of all the benefits of smiling?

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