Part of the problem with reading about happiness is that there are so many peripheral goodies to dive into. If happiness literature itself is like the strawberry field I alluded to (You are a Happiness Factory), then the related stuff is like a blueberry field right next to the strawberry one. It's all delicious and leads me to be happier - which in the end, is the goal of this month.
My first practical tip was mastering anger and the second one that's gained traction is smiling. Just smiling, the act of turning my lips upward is like a cleansing of the soul. My life is like a dirty car windshield and smiling cleans it and everything sparkles afterwards. It doesn't matter when I smile either. Smiling when I'm a little happy makes me happier, when I'm a lot happy it also makes me happier. It's become like a drug. If my face freezes like this like my mother warned, I'll be too happy to care.
There are also scientific results about smiling. In this TEDTalk, Ron Gutman highlights some:
- People who smile in their yearbook photos had longer and more fulfilling marriages.
- Baseball players who smiled in their baseball card photos lived longer than those who didn't.
- As babies in the womb we smile - we are programmed to smile.
- Smiling is contagious.
- When slid into an fMRI machine researchers found that smiling will light up our brain like a Christmas tree circled in $25,000 worth of gift.
- People who smile are rated as more likable, courteous, and competent
Does smiling make you happier, do happier people smile? Researchers think that smiling does make you happier rather than happy people smiling, but does it matter? Go ahead and see for yourself.