Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile,
Sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.
~Thich Nhat Hanh
Taking Control of Your Memories
Did you know we can trick our brains? Our memories are so powerful that if we remember mindfully, really re-live each detail of a memory, we can re-experience the emotions contained within. If we can mindfully remember a joyful memory, we can trick our brain to feeling happy.
The reverse is true, as well. When we dwell on bad memories, replay depressing/frustrating life moments over and over again in our heads, we find ourselves feeling sad. It's a negative feedback loop that ends up making us feel worse and worse.
This is why it's important to learn to be aware of what we are thinking about, and then make a choice. We can control our brains and our feelings, and let our smile be the source of our joy.
And Sometimes Your Smile Is The Source of Other People's Joy
We are born with Mirror Neurons, which are brain cells that scientists believe are key to learning by mimicry, and to developing understanding of other's actions and emotions (empathy.) When we smile at others, or see others smile at us, it activates these neurons, and we vicariously experience the emotions that cause us to smile. Mirror Neurons are why we feel happy when we see other happy people. So, by smiling we not only spread happy feelings, but we also feel better ourselves, because we are drawing happiness to us. We are able to change our environment simply by smiling.
Give It a Try
If you're not feeling much like smiling, I suggest mindfully remembering a happy memory. Mindfully remembering is not like playing a movie of the moment in your head. It's reliving each detail.
- Where were you?
- What did the scenery around you look like? What colors were there? What was the weather like? Was it sunny or cloudy? Warm or cold?
- What could you see? Hear? Smell? Touch?
- Who was there with you? Take a moment to really see their faces.
Use these prompts to remember each moment of the memory. If you move from one place to another, or a new person comes into the memory, use the prompts over again to really place yourself in the moment. I am confident that it won't be long and you'll be smiling, maybe without even realizing it.
What makes you smile?