Something you may not know about me is how much I love to smile. Not only do I love to smile but I also love to make others smile. It brings me great joy to bring a smile to someone’s face. Whether it’s with a silly dance, a funny costume, an out of tune song or simply a genuine compliment, I’ll do whatever it takes to turn frowns upside down. I have zero problems embarrassing myself for the sake of a smile. Because seeing someone’s face light up, puts a smile on my face too.
The beauty of a smile is that it often only takes a tiny little spark to ignite one. These small ordinary everyday smile sparks are pivotal in helping us turn crummy days into better ones. And our smiles, in turn, have the beautiful ability of sparking smiles in others.
Not everyday is going to be a good day but there is always something to smile about if we look hard enough. Not everyday gives us the big obvious reasons to smile like a new baby or a new job. BUT if we truly look for the joy in the ordinary we will always find something to spark a smile. And often we have to be really intentional about searching those things out. It’s important to do though because the benefits of smiling are many.
For instance, this Psychology Today article, tells us that each time you smile, you throw a little feel-good party in your brain.
The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness. For starters, smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress. Neuropeptides are tiny molecules that allow neurons to communicate. They facilitate messaging to the whole body when we are happy, sad, angry, depressed, or excited. The feel-good neurotransmitters—dopamine, endorphins and serotonin—are all released when a smile flashes across your face as well. This not only relaxes your body, but it can also lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
How cool is that? I don’t know all the science behind why a smile is so powerful but what I do know is that it just feels good to do it.
I also know that:
Smiles ignite more smiles.
Smiles ignite laughter.
Smiling is free!
But life has a way of getting in the way of our smiles, doesn’t it? So many problems to contend with on a daily basis doesn’t always leave us with a whole lot of time or desire for smiling. Finances, sickness, marriage, kids, work, traffic, there is always something trying to hold our smiles hostage.
That’s where smile sparks come in. The tiny intentional things we can do in a day to spark a smile for us and then hopefully those around us. Here’s a list of some of the sparks that work for me, often despite the circumstances of my day.
Fresh flowers in the house during a long cold January day sparks a smile for me.
Letting someone go in front of me at the grocery store sparks a smile for me.
Watching a sunrise or sunset makes me smile in wonder.
Feeling the sun on my face while getting some fresh air sparks a smile for me.
Paleo chocolate sparks a smile for me.
Reorganizing a room sparks a smile for me.
Turning the music up loud and dancing in my living room sparks a smile for me.
Taking a long first sip of a hot tea sparks a smile for me.
Finding a great deal at the thrift store sparks a big smile for me.
Curling up on the couch with my dog sparks a smile for me.
Crawling into a freshly made bed with clean sheets sparks a smile for me.
Making someone else’s face light up always sparks a smile for me.
A nice purge pile sparks a smile for me.
Praise and worship music sparks a smile for me.
Being silly lights up my face.
Yes that is me 🙂
Playing a practical joke sparks big smiles for me.
A gift to my parents. My siblings were thrilled with this blanket, ha!
Wearing a silly dog shirt makes me smile (and hopefully those around me).
All of these sparks can quickly turn a bad attitude into a better one. Smiling relaxes and calms me. It causes me to take a pause and a deep breath and be present in the moment. It brightens my day. And in turn makes me eager to brighten someone else’s day.
Ordinary every day things. There is joy to be found there. Pay attention to the things that connect you with joy. You can’t always decide to feel joyful but you can decide to do something joyful.
Looking back over my list you’ll notice that I have to be intentional about all of them in order for them to happen. I don’t just wait and hope they happen. I can decide to do something joyful. And it really helps if you know in advance what those smile sparks are.
Winters here in Canada where I live are six and seven months long and can be really hard on my mental state. Last year we purchased cross-country skis to give us an activity that gets us outside and enjoying winter (rather than sitting inside moaning about it). Turns out I really really like it. And it sparks all sorts of smiles for me.
One smile spark is all it takes to change the course of a day. And your one smile may be all it takes to ignite a smile in someone else.
What sparks a smile for one may be different from what ignites a smile for another. Make a list of the things that make you smile and put it on your fridge to remind you every day that there is joy to be found in the ordinary. On the hard days you’ll be really glad you have this list when smiling is the last thing you feel like doing.
Know what your smiles sparks are and make space for them in your day.
While grand gestures and events are wonderful, they just don’t happen everyday. So instead look for the small sparks in the midst of everyday life that make you smile. Embrace them.
Because all it takes is a tiny little spark to get a smile going 🙂
What sparks a smile in your life? If you’d like to share them with me on Instagram (please do!), tag me and use the hashtag #smilespark.
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