“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
Last week, I needed to smile, and I remembered that Thich Nhat Hanh frequently writes about the importance of smiling. I’ve collected some of my favorite quotations for this blog post.
The following explains why smiling is so powerful.
“When you don’t have joy and you smile, that is a real practice. You know there are something like 300 muscles, small and big on your face. Every time we get very angry or worried, all these muscles are very tight. When people look at you with that tension on your face, they don’t see you like a flower. People are afraid of you when all the muscles on your face are tense like that. You look more like a bomb than a flower.
But if you know how to smile, in just one second, all these muscles are relaxed and your face looks like a flower again. It’s wonderful…”
I’ve learned that smiling, even (or maybe especially) when I don’t feel like it, can indeed be the source of joy—or at least of a major mood shift.
Smiling means that we are ourselves, that we are not drowned into forgetfulness.
To smile restores my attention to the present moment. When I’m unsmiling and frantic, gloomy, or angry, I’m not usually experiencing the fullness of the present moment. I may be brooding over a past insult or rejection. I may be worrying about something in the future.
Suffering is not enough. Life is both dreadful and wonderful…How can I smile when I am filled with so much sorrow? It is natural—you need to smile to your sorrow because you are more than your sorrow.
To shift our focus to smiling helps us to focus on the present moment. A smile opens the door to appreciation. With a smile, we may go outside and enjoy the cloud-swept sky or the tender buds that will soon become leaves. We may pause to think of the people in our lives whom we love and value. We may smile to our sorrows and fears as we would to a small child who needs our love and comfort.
Thich Nhat Hanh offers this short meditation:
Breathing in, I calm body and mind.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is the only moment.
Thanks for reading this. I smile to you.
Here’s something else to make you smile, “Smile,” sung by Nat King Cole.