The only face you should make is a smile!
I heard this great concept in a lecture by Herbert Reike, CSB (Christian Science Teacher and Practitioner). He said that he was having a conversation with a man about happiness and asked the man whether he was happy. With a long face, the man said to him, “Well, I’m happy enough.” He replied to the man, “Well, why don’t you tell your face about it?”
We won’t always have experiences that promote joy and happiness, for we know that life has a way of challenging us, but overall are we even taking the time to count our blessings and acknowledge the good we have already received?
I came across this quotation that seemed to sum up the concept of smiling and laughter being healthy:
“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.”
~ Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D.1
Some of the benefits of laughing include muscle relaxation, stress reduction, aids in dissolving conflicts, decreases fear in the mind, and much more.2
If we look at faces throughout the day and even at our own at times, smiling would certainly lift our otherwise sullen expressions.
After many arduous experiences and overcoming grief, I knew it was time for a mental facelift so I decided to practice keeping a smile on my face throughout the day and as I would fall to sleep at night. This was a very difficult task especially right before turning in for the night, and I knew I needed prayerful support to pull this off. I dug into the scriptures and found many citations on the importance of keeping hold of joy in one’s life.
In the book of Proverbs 17:22, it is written, “22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (KJV). That explained why I wasn’t so flexible and my knees hurt!
I then found this verse in John 16:22, “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (ESV). I had been counting all of my losses and had forgotten what to look forward to. I smiled when I was reminded that my joy in Christ is secure. Then what really sealed this for me was when I read this citation in 1 Thessalonians 5:6, “Rejoice always” (ESV).
As I continued my research, I discovered an article about Norman Cousins and how he surpassed the prognosis from his doctor that he would not live longer than a few months after being diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a rare disease of the connective tissues. Mr. Cousins turned to laughter as one of his treatments and lived 26 years more after his diagnosis.3
According to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, “Laughter therapy, also called humor therapy, is the use of humor to promote overall health and wellness. It aims to use the natural physiological process of laughter to help relieve physical or emotional stresses or discomfort.”4
With all the information that I had gathered, I knew it was time for me to make a change.
I kept praying for more joy and to keep a positive attitude. I had reminder notes around to smile and began putting smiley faces on everything that required my signature. I used smiley emoji faces on emails, Skype, and text messages and then compiled a list of my favorite comedies that I purchased of which I frequently watched.
When I felt my face begin to droop, I immediately turned that frown upside down even if I didn’t feel like it. When I stirred during the night, I would remind myself that I’d better be smiling.
After months of continuous practice, I saw a great improvement in myself. My eyes were brighter, my skin was firmer, and my attitude was changing for the better. And people noticed; in fact, one friend of mine asked me if I was getting Botox injections!
Frowns, scowls, under-eye bags, red eyes, even wrinkles, do not characterize a happy person, but choosing to be happy rather than complaining and murmuring is a great way to bring light to one’s face and turn that frown around. In his lecture, Mr. Reike said that sickness is a “frown on your body” and with all the health issues that people face today maybe by adding dosages of laughter and keeping a smile on your face, the prognosis will improve as it did with Mr. Cousins.
There are reasons we won’t always smile and laugh, but there are also many reasons why we should. And with the scientific evidence pointing to how laughter is beneficial to good health, then why not try it out for yourself, and turn that frown into a smile?
–E. E. Cummings said, “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
1“Laughter Is the Best Medicine: The Health Benefits of ...” Accessed October 20, 2016. http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm
3 “Norman Cousins: The Man Who Laughed In The Face of Death.” Accessed October 20, 2016. https://healdove.com/alternative-medicine/normancousins
4 “Laughter Therapy: Cancer Treatment Centers of America.” Accessed October 20, 2016. http://www.cancercenter.com/treatments/laughter-therapy/
I recall when I was a younger woman, my mom would insist that I do a monthly breast examination. She was adamant that I make it a regular habit to ensure that anything my body did not need was not manifesting.
Today, medical professionals encourage us to get regular physical examinations. This kind of prophylactic thinking is advocated in order to avoid having to deal with a more complicated problem later.
I agree with taking a proactive position when it comes to taking care of ourselves, but I also believe that this needs to be applied to our mental health, because without a healthy perspective and outlook we leave ourselves vulnerable to harmful manifestations.
An examination for the consciousness, one that x-rays our thinking, requires that we pay close attention to the thoughts upon which we choose to act. Employing thoughts that manifest health, joy, love and only good while refusing to entertain destructive ones, demands regular practice in order for excellent mental health to be reached.
More often than not, it seems easier to douse the below par thoughts with anesthetics of some kind, keeping them suppressed because the interior walls of consciousness seem to be too big to take down or too high to overcome. This oftentimes leads us to believe that it’s easier to continue to impersonate the prevaricator and harbor our heart’s desires. We become very good at lying even though we try to convince ourselves and others – especially others – that we are telling the truth; however, somewhere in the deep realms of consciousness we’re aware of the fiction that we’ve been projecting in hopes of diverting ourselves from the fate we seem to have been assigned. Eventually, we feel stuck because the idea of change appears to be unreachable. The weight and burdens of the millstone keep us from flight and manifest in most challenging ways.
I realize that being true to ourselves seems precarious, but the truth remains that the longer we wait to check our thoughts that lead to the unhealthy choices we make, the harder it seems to heal the adverse results. Choosing relationships, careers, where to live and everything else in between, will affect our peace of mind. So the question arises, why do we choose poorly? Maybe because we have a need to please others!
In order to heal this “disease to please” much courage, tenacity and strength are required. In fact, these three qualities need to be proportionate, one to the other, so one doesn’t take on this endeavor without wisdom or with blind courage.
The need to please others has led many into unhealthy relationships, and though we may even know that we need to forfeit them in order to regain health, we’re unwilling to let go of them due to the many fears that plague us of what letting go will lead to. The thoughts of letting go and moving on are oftentimes much harder to bear than remaining where you are.
Thoughts rise up in consciousness that if we change our minds and desire a higher road, a different journey, then we leave ourselves open to be harshly judged. Even the possibility of being cast out of our own families is at risk when we become true to ourselves. But it seems to me that the liabilities are far greater when we live to please others and continue to fake our own happiness.
Abraham Lincoln said, “It is my ambition and desire to so administer the affairs of the government while I remain president that if at the end I have lost every other friend on earth I shall at least have one friend remaining and that one shall be down inside me.”
We have a right, a right given to us by God, to be free from the fetters that incarcerate our hearts and remand our talents. But the tool needed to break these chains begins with challenging the fears that argues to us and taking gentle steps towards intrepidity.
Beyond the present horizon from which you stand are many opportunities waiting to be experienced, but mediocrity and undistinguished hearts will always yearn for greatness, even if one tries to keep it hidden from oneself.
Below is a list of some general questions I asked myself when I first took on this task of self-examination. I’ve found that it keeps me honest, not only with others, but most importantly with myself. I hope it will do the same for you!
If you answered honestly to those questions, you should be able to discover what needs to be handled and healed. If you feel as though you cannot do this by yourself, there are many ways of reaching out to get the help you need. You deserve to be free from those mental fetters!
Change isn’t easy, but often very necessary and eventually, unavoidable!