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Organize Your Attitude #9

Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing. –Mother Theresa

It’s easy to smile at our newborns, smile at a cute three-year-old antic, smile at our bigger kids when they volunteer to help out. It’s good our life as mother provides us these opportunities to smile, because smiling is good for us and it is good for our kids.

SO065: Choose Your Expression.

Smiling comes naturally to some and less easily to others, but it is a simple gesture that can steer us clear of self-pity and a downward spiral and an act that is contagious to our children. They will catch and mimic what we model, so we should be conscious of our expressions.

Consciously choose the emotions you display, and the outward act of the will can work its way inward to change your actual emotion.

As Gretchen Rubin writes in Happiness Project:

Random smiling is an example of my resolution to “act the way I want to feel:” while people suppose that feelings inspire actions, in fact, actions also inspire feelings. So by acting happier, I should feel happier. And you know, I think I do.

If we find ourselves in need of a little attitude organization, one simple step we can take is to heave a deep sigh and reoxygenate, then smile.

Facial expressions don’t merely reflect emotions, they also influence emotions. In “facial feedback,” studies show, the mere act of smiling makes people happier — even when they smile mechanically. – Gretchen Rubin

When to smile:

  • Smile when the milk spills, because the child now has an opportunity to learn how to clean up after making a mess. No real harm done, but much good can be learned.
  • Smile when a child enters the room. Let him know, without words, deep in his bones, that he pleases you.
  • Smile when your plans don’t work out. Turns out God had a different idea. Trust it’s a better one.
  • Smile when the laundry pile overflows. Perhaps it’s an opportunity to catch up on your podcasts.
  • Smile when traffic is slow. Maybe this is the chance you wanted to have a conversation with your pint-sized travel partner.

We can learn the habit of letting small inconveniences and trivial trials roll off our back, and by doing so our resilience and fortitude will be trained should a lasting or larger affliction come.

Smiling disarms the stress that so easily mounts. Stress is bad for our health, for our minds, for our kids. The only way to reject the stress response is to acknowledge we are not in control, but our God is, and we trust Him. In that we can always find a smile of gratitude.

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile,” Thich Nhat Hanh wrote, “but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” Also, because of emotional contagion, people often mimic the faces of people they see. One reasons that people are attracted to happy people is that they “catch” that happiness, themselves. – Gretchen Rubin

A smile is a simple way to love someone else, to offer approval, acceptance, and affection. It is a gift to your children that gives back to you, also.

It’s simple. It’s effective.

“Children learn to smile from their parents.” – Sinichi Suzuki

Choose to smile.

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