June 15 was Smile Power Day!
If you read that and immediately thought of someone dressed in superhero-style spandex who is running around and grinning from ear-to-ear while saving cats from trees, well… Bethaney and I did too. But after this initial reaction, we also thought about the actual impact (the power, if you will) of smiling.
Our body and our emotions are deeply connected and closely intertwined. Make a change to one, and the impact is felt in the other. For instance, have you ever had a terrible headache? It’s pretty hard to be in a good mood when your head is pounding, isn’t it? Or have you ever had an incredible day where everything feels like it’s on your side – aced an exam, got a promotion, no traffic on the way home, favorite meal for dinner? You’re feeling delighted! And maybe that’s helping your body feel awesome too!
The communication between our body and our mind is continuous. They are actively trading information. All. Day. Long. And often, we aren’t consciously aware of these exchanges, which means we’re missing out on opportunities to create helpful change for ourselves.
Keep reading to learn about a skill that will help you harness this powerful connection, create a more positive mood, and reduce stress.
This skill is called “Half-Smile.”
It’s part of the Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan. She originally developed DBT to support adults who struggled with intense emotions and safety issues. Since then, these skills have served many people who want to invite more mindfulness, emotional regulation, and effectiveness into their lives.
Try following these steps to practice Half-Smile and welcome more positivity and joy into your own life:
- Start with your body still and your face relaxed. Try to have a calm and blank expression.
- Notice how it feels to sit in this way – Calm. Relaxed. In the present moment.
- Take a breath.
- Now, raise the corners of your mouth slightly… creating a small smile. It may help to think about something specific that you enjoy or something that helps you feel happy. I like to think about horses, warm coffee in the morning, wildflowers, or people I’m grateful for.
- Invite joy to join you as your face creates a gentle happy expression. Notice how your face feels in this smile.
- Take another breath.
- Continue about your day with increased gratitude, peace, and calm.
You can practice this skill anywhere and anytime that you need to, such as while:
Getting ready for the day – Sitting in traffic – Doing homework
Cleaning dishes – Going on a walk – Falling asleep
Or anytime that you feel annoyed, disappointed, or upset.
Remember, every time you practice this skill, you invite more happiness and calm into your life. Because smiling really IS powerful. You might even encourage someone else to smile!
How will you access the power of a smile with the Half-Smile skill this week?