Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV) Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Psychological studies show that a smile can reduce a person’s stress level. Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman, both psychological scientists of the University of Kansas, conducted research to discover how smiling affects stress. Through an extensive investigation, they learned that a genuine smile—the type that engages the muscles surrounding the mouth and eyes—has a positive influence when a person is experiencing stress.*
I’m not a scientist, but I know from experience that smiling affects the kind of response you get from people on many different levels. Throughout my life, I have come to value my ability to smile. Sure, I haven’t always felt like smiling, and I haven’t always smiled—but then again, sometimes when I was deeply depressed and I smiled to please other people—according to this study, it probably helped me, too.
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A smile costs nothing…yet some people think they can’t afford to invest in one. Compare the way you feel when someone greets you with a smile—or a look of annoyance. It’s a huge difference, right? A smile says, “You’re accepted,” “I’m glad to see you,” “I respect you.” An annoyed look can make a person feel rejected, offended, and unappreciated. How do you want people to feel when they’re around you? Do you want them to feel valued? Or disrespected?
In recovery from depression and dependency, a smile may seem like an unimportant and irrelevant thing to spend time thinking about, compared to all of your problems. You might be of the opinion that it would be hypocritical to smile when you don’t feel like it. As though, “Why make people think I’m happy, when I’m not?”
Well, it isn’t all just about making other people feel better. It’s about making yourself feel better—so that should make you want to try—if you want to start feeling better. If you don’t want to feel better—then maybe you shouldn’t try smiling…
Most people want to feel better than they do. They’ve just gotten caught in a trap of negativity and have lost their ability to know what will bring about change. Some people, however, say they’re tired of feeling lousy, yet they don’t want to do much of anything to create improvement.
Think of a ‘smile’, like ‘faith’. Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. In Romans 4:17, we are told that faith is calling those things that are not, as though they were. What if you smiled even if you didn’t feel like it—as an act of faith? You may have heard the saying, “Go through the motions, and the emotions will follow.” Or, “You become what you pretend to be.”
Think about it. A smile means a lot…whether it’s coming from you—or to you. In terms of legacy—it’s something you can give as a free gift. You can give all the smiles you want. You will never go bankrupt from smiling.
When you think about people you have known throughout your life, the ones who may have had the most positive influence over you, may have also smiled at you and made you feel appreciated.
Of course you’ve been absorbed with deep concerns…and yes, there may be reasons to believe that things might get worse before they get better—but you don’t have to give up. You could fight back with a smile. You could try it and see what happens. The study mentioned earlier showed that people who smiled had less response to stress, even if they smiled a fake smile.
‘Smiling’, is something you can choose to do—or choose not to do. You don’t need permission to smile, or a ‘degree’ to smile—babies do it—usually because someone else smiled at them. You don’t have to wait for someone to smile at you—you could be the first one to do it—instead of waiting for someone else to smile at you. You don’t even need a reason to smile. Just do it anyway, whether you have a reason to smile, or not.
How do you want to be remembered? As a person who was troubled and showed it? Or as someone who smiled and had a happy outlook? It’s not too late to work on smiling as a part of your legacy.
Declaration: I will find new strength by smiling more. I will not let stress control my life. I will fight back with a smile. If I smile, the people around me will feel better—and so will I.
*Press release from Association for Psychological Science 7/30/12
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All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee 2012. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog.