In Straighten Up!, Part 1 of Beauty On The Cheap we talked about posture and how standing and sitting up straight strengthens and beautifies.
In this post let’s talk about how smiling and laughing makes us more beautiful inside and out.
Growing up, I heard the words, “Put a smile on your face” often. Who can (or wants to) smile on command? So, when we talk about smiling in this piece, it’s not to conform to or please anyone else. Yes, a smile looks beautiful to others, but wearing one cheers you up too!
In the beginning, you may have to practice if you’re not used to smiling much, just like getting into the habit of standing up straight. Tyra Banks coined a term called smizing: smiling with your eyes. At the same time you are smiling you need to recall a happy memory, or imagine a beautiful place – while doing so, your thoughts will actually illuminate your eyes.
Speaking of smiling and being happy, how about laughter? I have a funny story:
One time years ago, I was asked to do massage for “Wild Women’s Weekend”. I packed up my massage table and headed to a beautiful island in Minnesota for the weekend. What I encountered was a group of women engaging in riotous laughter the whole weekend from pretty much everyone – except me. I remember thinking; “I want that!”. The sad part is, I realized I didn’t laugh much – at least not so anyone could hear. My laughing muscle was emaciated from all the years of disuse. Through Simply Noticing and not judging myself harshly, I began to cultivate a vision of becoming a laugher.
So when I got home I decided to begin “practicing” laughter. My family mocked and jeered me at first because my laughter was contrived – it was funny! But after spending a few weeks on choosing to laugh, it began to feel comfortable.
Am I perceived as a funny person today? Probably not, but I can laugh now – and I value joy above all because I know that when I am joyful I am fully present, thankful, breathing and living life to the fullest.
In order to really produce a beautiful and abiding smile, it needs to come from within. Sure, you can turn it on for an acquaintance or the camera – but that is momentary and looks superficial. What I’m talking about is a perpetual glow of peace, joy and contentment on your face that attracts others and makes you more beautiful.
So we must go deeper. Does a house look clean if you just tidy up and dust a few items? No, but if you deep clean with, as mom would say, “warm soapy water” you can feel the clean – it radiates because it is really clean through and through.
I guess what I’m talking about is “soul cleaning”. Take this little quiz and see what may be dulling your countenance and suppressing your smile. Give yourself 1 point for each yes answer:
- Do you regularly let-go and forgive others when they offend you?
- Have you wrestled with childhood issues that need clearing?
- Do you make an effort not to gossip or hold grudges?
- Do you keep jealousy and comparing yourself to others in check?
- Do you consistently live according to your values?
- Have you chosen friends that are good for you?
- What about thankfulness? Are you thankful for something everyday?
How did you do? 7 is perfect, don’t worry if you’re not quite there – no one is!
And what about joy, happiness, passion and pleasure?
- Do you have something you are really looking forward to in the next day or two, in the next week, month or year?
- If there are relationships or situations in your life that are stressfully unresolved, are you taking action steps toward resolution?
- Are there intimate friends in your life – and do you spend time nurturing these friendships?
- Have you made your work part of your life, not just a job, and do you bring your best self to it?
- Hugging others is one of the easiest ways to stay “in touch”. Do you have human touch in your life regularly, daily?
- Do you have a “big picture” dream? Have you shared it with others?
Sometimes it’s good to reflect and take inventory. 6 is a perfect score, if there is an item or two that you had to really think about, you may want to jot it down to ponder later.
How well do you care for yourself?
- Do you sleep enough?
- Drink enough water?
- Eat healthy most of the time?
- Exercise regularly?
- What are your spiritual practices? Do you spend time in prayer and meditation to renew this aspect of your being daily?
5 is perfect – don’t be too hard on yourself. It has taken me 55 years to develop healthy lifestyle habits, and I still fall short – often!
How about bad self-care habits?
- Do you abstain from smoking and drinking or at least keep these vices to the bare minimum?
- Do you make a conscious effort not to spend time feeling guilt, shame or regret?
- Do you know what’s good for you, and do it most of the time?
3 is great, but maybe we should be scoring one another so there is no bias. 😉 We all justify our habits and choices, I know I do – but be honest with yourself, that’s the most important thing.
So raise your hand if you got a 21! Now do 10 “Hail Marys”.
Did you know smiling and laughing required so much work? Well, it doesn’t really – it is actually a state of grace, but living your life so that smiling and laughter are a natural habit will require some “inner house cleaning”, and of course homes don’t stay clean, you need to develop a regular habit of maintenance.
Above all, don’t wait for your circumstances to change to be happy. Happiness is a choice.
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” And remember: “Faut souffrir pour être belle.” “One must suffer to be beautiful.”
See you at the spa!