For as long as I can remember, I reacted the same way when faced with a stressful situation…my jaw would clench, heart and breath would race and my thoughts would automatically go to negative places. And, as a result of these reactions, it would literally take me hours or sometimes days to calm myself down from that initial trigger.
On this journey to learn to lead a more stress-free and spiritual-based life, I discovered many tools to help me in these situations. Yoga taught me the importance of controlling your breath. Meditation taught me how to let my thoughts pass through me. Buddhism taught me the power of karma, a higher purpose and the Laws of Attraction. And mindfulness taught me the importance of living in the moment and not the past or the future.
One of the things I learned recently, which is perhaps the simplest and most effective way to calm myself down when I find myself in stressful situations, particularly with other people, is to simply SMILE. It’s the most liberating and freeing tactic when faced with someone who is clearly upset and who may be yelling or arguing. It’s the quickest way to calm yourself down when you find your stress level rising. And it’s medically proven to work…
There is still so little we know about how the brain really works. And so little of it that we actually use. But the more I dig deeper into the power of my own spirituality, and understand the way that controlling your thought patterns and muscle movements can solve so many problems, the more I seek out simple tools like…smiling.
I am also so amazed that controlling things like my facial gesture or my breathing can send my mind the message that it’s ok to not take life so seriously. And it’s ok to not choose fight or flight, but rather joy and peace. When you can take control of both your internal narrative and your physical reactions to life, the gift of being alive truly becomes one that can be overwhelmingly beautiful 24/7.
Now that my smile has become part of my daily ritual — when I wake up, in all of my daily moments, in my challenging situations and at the end of the day — it’s amazing how my brain is rewired to choose a happy reaction as opposed to a stressful reaction. In this instance, it’s as if my body (smile) is now controlling my mind instead of the reverse. And as a result, I am so much more at peace and in a zen state.
If you are in an argument with a spouse or friend, smile.
If you find yourself nervous about a pending situation, smile.
If you sense your stress is coming on, smile.
When you are in situations where you would typically choose anger, choose a smile instead.
And when you are alone with your thoughts, in any situation, whether on a nice walk or sitting quietly, for no other reason just smile.
Not only will you make yourself feel better in all of these situations, but the people you are spending your time with will feel so much calmer, too. Especially those you know who might be angry or stressed the most. And maybe, just maybe, they will learn to smile more often, too.